A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage, but nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage, but nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.A grieving couple retreat to their cabin in the woods, hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage, but nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse.
*** 1/2 (out of 4)
Thought provoking but highly controversial film from von Trier has a husband (Willem Dafoe) and wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) making love while their young son gets out of his crib and falls from a window to his death. After the grief sets in the couple head off to a cabin in the woods to try and cure the wife from her state but once there things take a turn for the worse. This film has a prologue, an epilogue and four chapters in between. Three of the chapters deal with grief, pain and despair. What the director was trying to say or do with this film is going to be in the mind of the viewer watching and I'm positive you could show this film to a hundred people and fifty would probably walk out. The other fifty would each have a different idea on the events in the film and that's probably why von Trier continues to be one of the most interesting directors out there. You might love him or you might hate him but no matter how you feel you're going to be feeling something, which is a lot more than most directors could have said about their work. This movie will certainly bring on debate and I'm sure it's going to bring on some strong feelings of hatred among those who see it but at the end of the day there's no doubt that the film will leave people thinking and questioning their own thoughts.
Writing this minutes after finishing the film, my mind is still all over the place on what exactly it was that I watched. I do feel disturbed, which is saying quite a bit considering some of the films I've seen in my life. The atmosphere created by von Trier is extremely disturbing and this is before we get to any of the controversial stuff. That stuff I won't ruin but all the hype you've read is certainly lived up to and von Trier takes on a new form of sexual violence that most people haven't seen. The bizarre sex scenes are never erotic but at the same time there's a level of love to them. This will leave people will more things to debate but I think the title refers to nothing here as the movie isn't about the antichrist but instead about human emotions to one level or another. Another thing I do know is that the two actors turn in incredibly brave performances and they're names should certainly be remembered at Oscar time but I have a feeling they won't be. Both are challenged physically to be brave because of the nudity, sex scenes and some extremely bizarre situations both are put in. You applaud them for that but they also take it to another level and deliver complete and haunting characters. The pain both actors display is quite amazing to watch but at the same time you almost hate to watch because of how painful they make it. There isn't another actor in the film so it's up to these two to carry everything and they pull that off without a problem. The visual style of von Trier is something else that people love and he turns in another real beauty here. The opening prologue is in B&W and it's perhaps one of the most haunting, tragic and beautiful images I've seen from a film in quite a while. The masterful music score playing over this sequence makes it even more haunting but there are other great visual touches throughout the film.
Some have made people believe that this is a porn film hidden behind the label of art but I think that's quite unfair. While there are hardcore sequences I think most people still look at them as being taboo. I, on the other hand, have become very familiar with this type of stuff since I'm a fan of the likes of Jess Franco so I don't mind this type of thing. I think it does add a lot of realism to the movie but people shouldn't think it's non-stop sex and torture from start to finish. The first few minutes feature some sex and then the rest of the movie is pretty clean up to the final thirty-minutes. In the middle is a lot of dialogue, which is perfectly written and delivered by the actors. You'll certainly have a lot to take in as, again, we're asked countless questions about what's going on but then your senses will be attacked when the actual torture does set in. This isn't an easy movie to watch and I'm sure many will walk away needing a shower but it does bring out emotions, feelings and thoughts, which is something not too many films can do. Love it or hate it this is a pretty unique movie.
- Nov 20, 2009