Josh Keown | Night Terror Novels 🧛🏻♂️’s review published on Letterboxd:
“Nature is Satan's church.”
- She (Charlotte Gainsbourg)
Over on the Internet Movie Database, someone once described Lars Von Trier as, and I quote, ‘an arty wanker’.
Now, although that is perhaps the most unsophisticated and rudimentary way of expressing it, they did have a point. It isn’t hard to see why Trier could be considered pretentious, especially with his most controversial outing yet, Antichrist.
To say it is unforgettable is a gross understatement. Rather, for better or worse, it sears itself into your subconscious, tapping its way into your most deep seated fears. It is a film that will astonish and infuriate in equal measure, a film that cannot be simply watched, but felt. The exact emotions felt will differ from viewer and viewer, but it’s guaranteed to extract some response. So, is it just a gratuitously gory and ostentatious mess? Or is it perhaps, an artistic masterpiece, a work of raw, cinematic brilliance, despite the graphic sex and violence?
I would, in all honesty, say it is the latter. Whilst I would not proclaim that I loved this movie, or even enjoyed it, I can appreciate it for what it is; a lyrical portraiture of the darkness in humanity. Now, I’m going to have to control myself here, as there is so much one could explore and study within Antichrist.
I think it goes without saying that the cinematography is fantastic, truly, truly magnificent. Every single frame oozes an almost ethereal beauty, making each scene (yes, even the explicit sex and violence) completely enthralling. The acting from both leads is phenomenal. Dafoe plays the distant husband excellently, whilst Gainsbourg is pure perfection in a role reminiscent of Isabelle Adjani in Possession (1981).
It juggles some incredibly profound issues regarding human nature and faith, religion and evil. The biblical overtones are there in full force too. Although some have questioned it as being misogynistic, I thought Dafoe’s uncompassionate husband was just as much the villain. Both characters are victims of their own humanity, or lack thereof.
I could literally write pages on this one, but will stop myself here. Antichrist is definitely only going to appeal to a very particular audience, though. It’s so thoroughly oppressive and bleak, so unflinchingly brutal, that most sane viewers would be reaching for a rope rather than enduring this through to the end.
VERDICT; Easily one of the most shockingly visceral, yet painfully exquisite, cinematic experiences of my life. Agonisingly uncompromising, yet utterly compelling. Words do not even begin to describe the harrowing, haunting ordeal that is Trier’s Antichrist.
4.5/5 or 9/10
(Alternatively, this film may be absolute garbage, and I a pompous prick like Von Trier. Either is possible.)