Monday, April 18, 2011

"Antichrist" is a true WTF movie

I have previously stated on this blog how much I love Lars von Trier.  I think his movies are daring, offbeat and beautifully heartbreaking.  "Dancer in the Dark" is still one of my favorite movies to date.  I enjoy von Trier's take on the world and the look and feel of his movies are generally very interesting and cool.  I watched the first scene of "Antichrist" with high expectations and it didn't disappoint.  The music, camerawork and imagery were beautiful and disturbing.  Little did I know that beautiful and disturbing would be the two words that would resonate for the entire film...with an emphasis on disturbing.

What is the recovery process for losing a child?  What might happen to two people when one is an emotional novelist/book student and the other is a shrink?  The two protagonists in this story (really the only two people in the entire film) lose their son in a tragic accident right away at the beginning of the film.  This sets of a series of events as the shrink husband (Willam Defoe) tries to cure the emotionally destroyed wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg).  Trier's characters have always been offbeat.  They often speak in weird cadences and their sentence structure isn't always normal.  More often than not however, it is a very real performance that he is able to capture.  This was SO not the case for this movie.  I didn't understand these characters motives from square one.  They made absolutely no sense.  As the movie went on, it became less and less clear who they were and why they where together.  Defoe plays his shrink at one level pretty much the entirety of the film.  Outside of his interesting face, there isn't one thing that kept me interested about him.  There was no background brought up and I had no reason to care for him.  Maybe that was the point?  However, Gainsbourg's character turns out to be even more confusing.  In the end, you are routing for Dafoe's character simply because of the large leap off the deep end Gainsbourg makes by the end of the film.

As the movie progressed, I understood what was going on less and less.  What began as a story about loss became a weird fable about a man and a woman in the woods at a place they called Eden.  It comes out of nowhere that she was working on a thesis surrounding evil in the women of history.  All of a sudden, she goes absolutely crazy and things take a turn from the weird to the downright absurd.  There is so much random and unnecessary sex in this film.  I am in no way a prude, but this was far to out there for me.  In fact, it was downright disgusting at times.  There was no motivation for it...ever.  It came out of nowhere and went nowhere.  Some of you may have seen the international poster for this film.  On it is a pair of bloody scissors.  I now know what that means and it was the point in the movie I literally threw my hands up in the air in disbelief.  How could a wonderful director be SO far off the mark?!  I fear we will never know.

The only thing keeping me from giving this a 1 star rating was the visuals.  Often times they made no sense, but damn were they pretty.  The shot of the tree in the poster above, the amazing super slow-mo shoots of Charlotte in the woods, these are all things that kept me watching.  Even the slightly disturbing imagery that cropped up from tie to time was done quite well.  The almost ending...not so much.  I would prefer never to see something like that ever again.  In fact, it is my hope that he puts this crap fest behind him and goes back to making the good movies I have come to love from him.  Here's to hoping "Melancholia" is far better.

2 out 10 stars

No comments: