Antichrist (18)

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The View Review

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Review byMatthew Turner22/07/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Beautifully directed, impressively acted drama that's not nearly as controversial or as shocking as the press reports would have you believe and actually works surprisingly well as a black comedy about why you should never marry a psychiatrist.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Lars Von Trier, Antichrist opens with a beautifully shot, black and white, slow motion sequence of a married couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) having sex (to the sounds of opera music) while their infant son crawls onto a desk and then out of an open window, whereupon he plunges to his death. Seemingly unaffected by grief, the husband (a psychiatrist) whisks his wife away to Eden, an aptly-named, isolated woodland cottage, where he attempts to help her recover from her anguish by talking monotonously at her for hours on end.

Unsurprisingly, the wife's reaction is to lash out at her husband and her attacks become more and more ferocious as she begins to crack up under the strain. However, it also appears that nature itself is conspiring against the couple, particularly when a talking fox and a seemingly unkillable crow show up.

The Good
The film is beautifully shot, with gorgeous cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle and clever use of effects that give Eden a nightmarish, fairy-tale-like quality. In addition, the acting is superb, with both Dafoe and Gainsbourg delivering fearless, raw performances that are extremely powerful.

Antichrist's shocking reputation rests on two scenes of genital mutilation, both of which are admittedly horrible, but they're also clearly effects shots and you don't see the actors in shot at the time. It's also been accused of rampant misogyny, but, to be fair, Dafoe's character is, if anything, the least likeable of the two and you'll be hard pressed not to cheer when Gainsbourg drops a concrete block on his balls.

The Great
Essentially, Antichrist is a psychological horror movie with moments of jet black comedy – it's impossible to believe, for example, that the opening scene was intended to be taken seriously and both the talking fox and the scene with Dafoe punching crows are hilarious.

Worth seeing?
Antichrist is a beautifully shot, powerfully acted and frequently disturbing drama, but it's also darkly funny. Ultimately, it's one of those films that you have to make up your own mind about, but don't be put off by the hysterical press reports.

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Antichrist (18)
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Content updated: 26/09/2015 09:24

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