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Sunday, May 17, 2009
Cannes Day 5: Antichrist
Finally, we had something that woke everybody up from the torpor. And it wasn’t surprising that the provider of the shock (and ridiculousness and even repulsion) is the Danish provocateur Lars von Trier. The restless prankster’s new film is “Antichrist” – after two hours it’s still not clear why it’s called that – a horror that wouldn’t be so far off-the-mark if it had been billed as an (accidental) comedy.
The film stars French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg, incidentally my favourite, and rock-jawed Willem Dafoe. They play a couple who’s lost their child and retreats to a forest cabin, where the husband, a psychological therapist, tries to cure the increasingly scary mood swing and anxiety of his grieving wife. Wrapped in the foggy forest, the wife begins to exhibit clear signs of mental disorder, or demonic possession, or both, and the result is some of the most perverse domestic violence that I’d better not reveal in full – Gainbourg spends quite many scenes not wearing pants, while Dafoe, well, let’s say you’ll see something you’ll NEVER see again from this actor, or any other living actor at work in this world, including, well, OK, I’ll give you an example: an ejaculation like no others, an ejaculation that you won’t even see in a hard-core porn.
The movie is so serious in its weirdness and sickness and erotic paganism that you wonder if this isn’t one big joke; indeed, Von Trier is nothing if not an sharp, scary prankster. It’s not a good film – he's made much better films, from “Breaking the Waves”, “Dancer in the Dark”, “Dogville” – but you won’t confuse an image you see from “Antichrist” with an image you see from any other film. The director will also have to answer questions, again, about his attitude towards women
In a way, this is a sign that the Competition titles might pick up momentum from here. Queuing up for the next five days include Tarantino, Ken Loach, Michael Hanake, Gaper Noe, Tsai Ming-liang. But “Antichrist” will surely become a hot discussion not only days from now, but months.
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