**Though this film is no longer in theaters, I wanted to review this film for anyone else who is interested hearing about the movie. I hope to do this with more films that I give 5 stars to that are either not in theaters, or off the beaten path**
Lars von Trier is one of those few directors who truly push not just the general audience, but the definitions of filmmaking at its core. An Avant Garde director in the same vein as the brilliant David Lynch, or in some cases, Gus Van Sant. I’ve only seen one other film of von Trier, and though original in its execution, it left me annoyed. Antichrist did the exact opposite for me. It will go down as one of the most disturbing, graphic, and brilliant movies I’ve ever seen. Not since I saw Wendy and Lucy or The Hurt Locker this past year, has a movie shown such audacity.
The film begins with a prologue. In it we see two events unfolding simultaneously. One is a married couple who have sex in the shower, and later, their bed. The other event is of their young son Nick. Who while they are having sex, climbs out of his crib and falls out the window of their apartment. There isn’t any sound going, just the soundtrack in the background, adding to the suspense. This prologue sets the stage for the movie itself.
The remainder of the film involves Charlotte Gainsbourg attempting to grieve the loss of her only son. By her side is her headstrong, psychologist husband, played by Willem Dafoe. Rather than allowing someone else to help her, Dafoe’s character instead decides to help her recover on his own. They end up in a cabin in the woods, using the isolation to their advantage, despite Gainsbourg’s character’s fear of the woods. Rather than having monsters or spooky William Castle tricks, von Triers instead has the woods be a villain. Yet unlike most horror movies (this would probably be considered horror), neither the score or the action let us know what is coming. We see it unfold as if a curtain is being pulled back. And so we are watching as Gainsbourg recovers from her loss over time; at times with her husband’s help and at others in spite of him. A brilliant story touching on loss and disorientation that traumatic events cause us.
The movie is riddled with scenes and suggestions that would make any American ratings board drop dead. There is genital mutilation, prolonged nudity, language, and graphic depictions of dead animals. Despite its obvious shock values, the film is truly masterful. The dialogue and lack of Hollywood uber-special effects let the movie instead focus on the two characters, each more enriching as thought-provoking as the movie unfolds. It isn’t a quick-moving film, but it is one that has a destination unknowable even as it occurs. This unpredictable manner of filmmaking makes the experience that much more enriching. Today’s movies are too often cookie cutter and predictable in the first act.
This film is a mix of 2 parts Lynch, 1 part John Waters, and 1 part WTF?! I have no idea when this film will ever be released in the United States due to its graphic nature. Those who wish to see the film (its theatrical release was quick and rather quiet) can do so by using Netflix’s instant viewing capabilities. Me? I’m buying a copy as soon as they put it on the shelf. 5 out of 5 stars