LARS VON TRIER | DENMARK | 2009 | 108 MIN | NR
Claiming the distinction of “most disturbing Lars von Trier film” is quite a feat given the Danish provocateur’s famously intense oeuvre, but few who have experienced ANTICHRIST would deny it the title. The film is a gorgeous black hole of grief, following a married couple in the aftermath of their young son’s accidental death. While the wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is almost catatonic with despair and self-recrimination, her psychologist husband (Willem Dafoe) attempts to wrest her out of bereavement with a series of well-intentioned but ill-conceived therapeutic exercises. They venture to their isolated cabin in the woods, and against this eerily beautiful backdrop von Trier’s blisteringly intense portrait of a marital crisis takes on increasingly supernatural, savage dimensions. Like a black metal take on Bergman, ANTICHRIST renders the psychological torment of its characters in ever more physical terms, incorporating some of the most upsetting body horror every captured on-screen. Von Trier’s handling of gender dynamics is thorny as ever, but once again he’s blessed with a fearless performance from his lead actress, and Gainsbourg deservedly took home the Best Actress prize at Cannes for her work.
Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe
“Speaks the language of madness with astonishing fluency.” –The Austin Chronicle