Antichrist – Denmark, 2009 – reviews

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Antichrist is a 2009 Danish film written and directed by Lars von Trier, starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. It follows horror film conventions and tells the story of a couple who, after the death of their child, retreat to a cabin in the woods where the man experiences strange visions and the woman manifests increasingly violent sexual behaviour. The narrative is divided into a prologue, four chapters and an epilogue. The film was primarily a Danish production but co-produced by companies from six different European countries.

Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg play a grieving couple retreat to Eden, their isolated cabin in the woods, where they hope to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things go from bad to worse…

“Like the films of Dreyer, Tarkovsky and Bergman, Antichrist is something to be experienced rather than understood, at least at a first viewing, and it concludes in the visionary epilogue on a tone of tragic tranquillity. It’s a solemn work perhaps, but forceful rather than hectoring, and is performed with an involving commitment and moral conviction by Gainsbourg (who won the best actress award at Cannes) and Dafoe.” Philip French, The Guardian

“The film that follows is a lengthy, verbose and extremely tedious representation of two souls descending into hell. The expressionistic visuals present images of naked bodies in torment that have a ponderously obvious affinity with the paintings of Hieronymus Bosch.” Daily Mail

“A star rating is not much help, since von Trier’s self-conscious arrogance is calculated to split audiences into extremist factions, but Antichrist delivers enough beauty, terror and wonder to qualify as the strangest and most original horror movie of the year.” Kim Newman, Empire

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“The experience presented here by Criterion allows you to more comprehensively absorb the film with proper context, regardless of what you end up thinking of it.  Be forewarned: it’s the kind of experience that could sour friendships, romantic relationships, and your tenuous grasp on reality.  Regardless, it’s one of the most indelible cinematic experiences you’ll have for some time.”  Bad Ass Digest Criterion Blu-ray review

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