Entertainment Weekly

Subscribe

Stay Connected

Subscribe

Advertise With Us

Learn More

Skip to content

Article

Cannes report: Lars von Trier's 'Antichrist': 'The closest film to a scream'

Posted on

Antichrist_l

Antichrist_l

I didn’t say that; Lars von Trier did about his own new movie, which had exactly the kind of scandal-courting press premiere on Sunday evening that the wily Danish bad-boy filmmaker must have hoped for. Here’s the set-up: Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play a nameless couple mourning the death of their young son. (Oh yes indeed, we see it happen.) She’s particularly stricken; he, a psychotherapist (of a kind I wouldn’t advise hiring) tries to help her through the stages of her grief. They go to their cabin in the woods in a spot called, heh heh, “Eden.” It’s hell. The woman turns into a sexually voracious, sado-masochistic monster — a she-devil. Blood spurts, bones are broken, genitals are mutilated … hellooo? Are you still with me?

(Here’s von Trier again, in an interview published in literature from the Danish Film Institute thoughtfully handed out as grown critics pushed and shoved like feral schoolboys elbowing to get into the auditorium: “My perversions, which are reflected in this film, aren’t new. Only the how of it is different. And because some of the material comes from my youth, it may be unreasonable, ecstatic. The emotions and the fears had to be pursued to the last drop of blood.”)

The movie looks almost tauntingly great, of course, with von Trier’s longtime collaborator (and Slumdog Millionaire Oscar

winner) Anthony Dod Mantle as cinematographer. So it’s one

good-looking, publicity-grabbing provocation, with an overlay of

pseudo-Christian allegory thrown in to deflect a reasonable person’s

accusations of misogyny. As a kicker, the director dedicates the

picture to the memory of the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky

— a final flip of the bird to the Cannes audience.

And oh, how our audience took the bait!  But then, there’s always at

least one film at this outsized, obstreperous, one-of-a-kind film

festival each year that’s pre-determined to freak out the

press-pass-wearing populace. Consider the crowd (including the

belligerent European gent who nearly knocked me over shoving to get

through the gate) happily, perfunctorily scandalized.

More from the Cannes Film Festival:
 Lars von Trier’s Antichrist: Cannes’ scariest moment yet
Roger Ebert, A Prophet, and a trend that ought to end
Taking Woodstock = Peace and Love and Demitri Martin
Bright Star and the Scottish charms of Paul Schneider
At Cannes: Up, Tetro, and lots of balloons

The movie looks almost tauntingly great, of course, with von Trier’s longtime collaborator (and Slumdog Millionaire Oscarwinner) Anthony Dod Mantle as cinematographer. So it’s onegood-looking, publicity-grabbing provocation, with an overlay ofpseudo-Christian allegory thrown in to deflect a reasonable person’saccusations of misogyny. As a kicker, the director dedicates thepicture to the memory of the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky– a final flip of the bird to the Cannes audience.

And oh, how our audience took the bait!  But then, there’s always atleast one film at this outsized, obstreperous, one-of-a-kind filmfestival each year that’s pre-determined to freak out thepress-pass-wearing populace. Consider the crowd (including thebelligerent European gent who nearly knocked me over shoving to getthrough the gate) happily, perfunctorily scandalized.

More from the Cannes Film Festival:
 Lars von Trier’s Antichrist: Cannes’ scariest moment yet
Roger Ebert, A Prophet, and a trend that ought to end
Taking Woodstock = Peace and Love and Demitri Martin
Bright Star and the Scottish charms of Paul Schneider
At Cannes: Up, Tetro, and lots of balloons