Thursday, September 9, 2010

DVD Review: Antichrist (by Dave Machado)

Antichrist is a movie that made me both thankful and regretful that I am not blind. It tells the story of a couple who are mourning the death of their only child, who in a beautifully shot prologue, falls to his death from their apartment window. The rest of the movie shows the couple trying to overcome their unbearable grief as they search for a meaning to go on. It is a cold, heartless movie that focuses on the evil of humans, specifically villainizing their dirty sexual desires. Antichrist is an extremely difficult movie to get through both physically and emotionally and there is nothing redeeming waiting for you on the other end as the credits roll.

I see Antichrist less of a movie and more as an art project. Granted it's art I would prefer never to see again, but I can at least acknowledge that the movie had some strikingly haunting visuals. There were scenes where it mattered less what was happening on the screen as my eyes simply admired the beauty that was on display. The plot is fairly easy to follow and you really get a feeling of the downward spiral these two descend upon as they slowly loose their grip on what's left of their lives. Once the husband (played by Willem Dafoe) decides to take his wife (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg) to an old cabin she is having nightmares of (due to spending the last summer with her son there), the movie delves even further into the abyss, thus becoming less interesting and more mean spirited. 

I think I have a grasp on what Director/Writer Lars von Trier was attempting with this movie, I just have a hard time respecting the outcome. The movie contains a fair amount of graphic scenes that were very uncomfortable to watch. I can usually deal with the worst gore a movie has to offer but when it is so devoid of humor or any spark of entertainment, I am quickly turned off. Obviously humor has no place in a movie like this so to see just how far he goes really made me question if I even wanted to continue watching until the end. This is not a movie you watch to be entertained, it is a movie you watch to experience the hell these characters are going through. 

The interesting aspect about the couple though is von Trier's decision to make the husband a psychiatrist. He (that's literally the character's name by the way.  The wife's name is She.) is a very distant husband and treats his wife as a patient as she becomes increasingly more unraveled due to their son's death. The pair come to embody the constant struggle between the mind and the body as she constantly throws herself at him for sex as a way to cope with her issues. We never see the couple before their son's death and it is implied they have always had this distance between them. Calling either of the two "sympathetic" would simply be a lie as the whole movie makes you despise these two characters almost from the very start.  An interesting decision considering the lack of any supporting characters to fall back on. I hope heaven, or any form of the afterlife, doesn't exist in the universe of this movie because their little boy has suffered enough and should never have to see the insane depravity of his parents.

The only experience I can compare this movie to was when I saw the Marina Abramovic exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. There were many people their admiring her work, which like this movie seemed to enjoy linking sex to death. As I walked through the exhibits, a sense of dread came over me and I needed to leave. I was left confused as to how anyone could view this objectively and enjoy it as art when it was so perverse. Antichrist left me with that same feeling and because of it, it was a movie I can easily say I got no enjoyment out of seeing. So if you are brave enough, good luck watching this film. You can't say I didn't warn you though.

You're Welcome,

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