Perfect summary of von Trier’s Antichrist. I’m sure half the theater hated us due to our sporadic chuckling throughout the film…CHAOS REIGNS!
Red flags should be immediately raised when a director (pardon me, a self proclaimed arthouse director) creates a manifesto (see dogme95), can’t adhere to it, and then disregards it completely.
More red flags should be raised when said director goes on record to say that he makes film only for himself, intentionally pissing off his audience, and crafting a story without subtext.
Typically, I find von Trier to be a very entertaining filmmaker; his movies, though by no means original (at times, such as here, he tries too hard to be Kubrick), are typically very thought provoking (by way of Dogville or Manderlay) or simply intelligently crafted (by way of Dancer in the Dark). When I first heard about Antichrist, I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into it; Mr. Provocateur was going to blister the face of western ideology, taking gender and religion with him. The thought of all this controversy over gender mutilation intrigued the darker parts of my psyche. Surely this was going to be his masterpiece…Or at least these were the hopes of a loyal fan.
Antichrist struck me as the type of film made by a kid throwing shit against a wall and seeing what would stick, simply because could.
Let’s start from the top. Yes, spoiler alert galore.
There’s a weird bookending to this picture; the prologue and epilogue were too glamourized to be taken seriously, and more closely resembled a perfume commercial than a movie (those who have seen it: did the last shot of the prologue make you think “it’s got to be Tide”? Because that’s all I could hear in my head). But these segments do nicely open and close the film, albeit in a head scratching manner. The epilogue also pulls the Return of the Jedi ending with the apparations, which just about made me piss myself laughing.
The meat of the film is styleless, empty, and basically an incohesive mess. There’s always a fine line in arthouse cinema between artistic obscurity verging on subjective textual analysis, and random attempts at avant-garde. I’m sad to say that Antichrist falls on the latter half, mostly due to the inconsistent camera work and visual composition; half the scenes are (sometimes annoyingly vibrating) handheld ‘docu’-style, and the others look like over-produced music video segments. But there is no attempt to create a meaningful collusion, it all just sort of pops in and out. The writing also stifles what could have been an intensely rich film with characters that aren’t fleshed out enough to make sense but aren’t minimal enough for me to accept the lack of clarification.
Now for the ‘controversial’ scenes…which is really the only reason this movie made it this far. A few seconds of full frontal clitoris being cut and a penis ejaculating blood, the end. It’s shocking, but it’s not disturbing; disturbing implies a psychological effect. This is simply for shock value. After all the hype, even the ‘should we censor this???’ scenes fell flat.
Basically, this whole movie fell flat: it didn’t pay enough attention to the more fantastic aspects (such as the animal encounters, among which is the infamous ‘chaos reigns,’ which I found to be the most fascinating elements) to be considered a fable, it didn’t pose enough questions to leave it open for contextual debate, it wasn’t gratuitous enough to be considered disturbing…in fact, without the genital mutilation, it’s just like any other movie.
When I think about it, if this didn’t have von Trier’s name attached, it would have gone straight to DVD and no one would give it any mind.
Overall, not a horrible movie, but unfortunately it’s just under adequate. I would love to talk to someone who loves this movie, simply to see what warrants such intense thought. My prediction is that the mass public will look upon this movie with awe, for nothing less than the fact that they don’t get it, so it must be brilliant. Like I said: arthouse for idiots.
(Oh, and I try not to read into it this way, but I couldn’t help but see how incredibly and visciously misogynistic this movie is.)