Antichrist (Denmark/Germany/France/Sweden/Italy/Poland; 104 min.)

directed by: Lars von Trier
starring:Willem Defoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg

Thom says: "I’m flat out going to warn you, without giving away any plot details, do not see this film if you are the tiniest bit disturbed by graphic torture scenes. It comes very close to being the most despairing & repulsive film I’ve ever seen, which is saying a mouthful. The story is about a couple who lose a child due to negligence by the mother. The woman cannot raise herself up from a totally numbing depression, but she agrees to psychoanalysis with her psychiatrist husband. They go away to their country home to sort matters out. That’s all I’m going to say other than you won’t go out of the theatre the same way you came in. The acting is superb from these two super-professional artists. 5 cats "

Scot says: "I love Lars von Trier ... for all the wrong reasons. I've never seen BREAKING THE WAVES, but all the other films I've seen before ANTICHRIST (DANCER IN THE DARK, DOGVILLE, THE FIVE OBSTRUCTIONS) always leave me laughing. Yes, I laughed at the end of DANCER IN THE DARK. Please don't think me cruel. I just can't take him seriously. There's just something about his grandiose parables that pushes irony over the edge into comedy. Unintentionally.

"ANTICHRIST tells the story of one woman's (Charlotte Gainsbourg) decent into madness and her husband/therapist's (Willem Dafoe) misguided attempt to treat her following the accidental death of their toddler son. Gripped with debilitating anxiety after the husband convinces her to forgoe psychiatric medication, she identifies the source of her fear as the remote cabin in which she unsuccessfully attempted to complete her dissertation on gynocide. Explaining that the only way for her to overcome her mental illness is to face this fear head on, the husband takes her back to the cabin, and well ... things go downhill from there.

"A lot of hoopla has been made about the last 20 minutes of the film when it turns into a full-fledged horror film. But it's worse hearing about what happens that it is to watch. Actually, there's not really as much graphic violence as you may be led to believe. It's not relentless either, like the end of AUDITION. But there are a few shocking things you've probably never seen on film before.

"Like DOGVILLE, the film is really more of an allegory than a straight-ahead realistic narrative. First of all, the characters aren't even named, so they seem to stand in for 'man' and 'woman' in general. Add to that the fact that their remote cabin is named Eden (yes, they even mention a garden), and you might even start to figure out which man and woman they represent. Oh, and there are mythical animal (spirits?) that represent grief, pain, and despair. So, von Trier is clearly trying to say something broad and definitive about the human condition; one that clearly involves the relationship of the sexes.

"So what's he trying to say? Some reviewers have called ANTICHRIST a feminist horror film because the female is not a victim, but takes on more of the dangerous monster role. I think that's just poppycock. There is way too much f*cking in the film for this to be about a woman as an individual. It's about the man as much as the woman. And we clearly see most of the events through his eyes, not hers.

"I think the thesis is pretty clear: Violence historically perpetuated against women by men results in women assuming the role of evil. If portrayed as evil, it is a self-fulfilling prophecy that women will embody it. (Gainsbourg even says this pretty clearly in the film.) And then, since women really are evil, it incites more violence against them by men. Women are the carriers of the evil that infects men. It's a vicious circle that von Trier thinks is part of the human condition, told most concisely in the story of Adam and Eve and original sin.

"That sounds just horrible, doesn't it? Well, it is, but when you combine it with really, really over-the-top situations and some pretty abrupt character transitions, it makes for a really giggly horror film, I think. Don't get me wrong, the performances are really top notch. Gainsbourg and Dafoe commit the hell out of every moment on screen. And the mesmerizing camera of Anthony Dod Mantle is an artwork in itself. But the whacked out story just can't be taken seriously. Not by me at least. Still, I had an excellent time at this film and left feeling really energized, just like I did after AUDITION or THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT. It's probably not the best film von Trier has ever made, but it sure is fun. 4 cats"