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Directed by Lars Von Trier
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The film is called ‘Antichrist’ and it was written and directed by the Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier. Here is how it begins. A middle-aged couple is making love on the bed in their bedroom. While they’re engaged, their toddler son works his way out of his crib while holding his bear, goes to the window and falls out to his death. The couple awakes and decides that their selfishness, their focus on themselves, has been responsible for his death. He – they are referred to only as He and She – is a psychologist; They met when She studied with him. Now they mourn the child but she cannot stop crying. She blames him, she blames herself, she blames the sex.
They decide to go to their cabin in the woods, called Eden. He seems to be over the loss, She obsesses over it. In fact she seems to be having a breakdown, or perhaps some kind of flight into madness. She begins to take her anger out on Him.
I don’t think I can take you any farther along the line of the plot of Antichrist; because it becomes much too difficult to watch from this point on. But that’s what I think is Von Trier’s point. He’s made a film that will confront us with the kind of madness that only civilized, intelligent people can suffer from, and he does it seamlessly, inevitably, with a natural progression that has us in the audience going, “Whoa! was I aboard when this train went out of control? How did I miss it? The couple is played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and the two are astounding to watch as they move around each other, feinting, parrying, thrusting. Make no mistake, Von Trier has let it all hang out in “Antichrist,” farther even than he’s ever gone before. It’s a film so simple we can devalue it as a sophomoric effort to astound and sicken us; but Von Trier is far beyond that; his work includes the strange musical “Dancer in the Dark,” with Byork as a woman facing death; and “Breaking the Waves,” about a woman looking for her sailor husband. “Antichrist” is probably his purest and most powerful film to date.