Sunday 29 November 2009

Review: Anti-Christ

Year: 2009
Director: Lars Von Trier
Screenplay: Lars Von Trier
Starring: Willim Defoe, Charlotte Gainsbourg

Synopsis is here

"I'm the greatest director in the world!" Von Trier cried after his Cannes screening of his latest film Anti-Christ. Why would he say something like that? Because he wishes to provoke reaction and his latest flick is no different. Knee jerk reactions were abound as soon as details of the film came out, with the most memorable of course being those rational people at the Daily Mail whose Mary Whitehouse-esque statements providing the most hilarity.

What most of those responses failed to see is that they've fallen into Von Trier smug self-promotion trap. Good or Bad the director just wants you to think of him and his "high art". The problem is for all it's beautiful visuals, Anti-Christ is a boring slog of a movie with only it's "shocking" scenes as it's high point and even those I found pretty tame.

In terms of technical aspects of craft, this is Von Triers best film. The cinematography is sublime while the sound production helps establish the films desolate tone. It's a shame that the film itself is filled with dull psycho-babble spewed by the two repugnant unnamed characters. Much has been said of the performances but I didn't warm to them or the people in anyway. Their listless manner of speaking became frustrating and the characters themselves are punch in the face horrible. Defoe's "He" is an elitist, patronizing prick while Gainsbourg "She" comes off as irritating more than anything else. By the time the film reaches it's over hyped climax I found it hard to care about what's happened to them.

Likened by critics for it's "serious" approach to grand subjects such as grief, by the time the CGI fox screams "chaos reigns" in your face, my funny bone has never been tickled harder. After all the films navel gazing posturing, the film suddenly descends into insanity as Von Trier decides to end the film with a needless display of gratuitous violence which doesn't disgust as much as it show complete disregard for it's audience. These scenes are no more than a selling point for the movie because a film like this would have been mostly dismissed without them. I can't see why however, because while Von Trier thinks he pushing boundaries, he doing nothing that Eli Roth or Rob Zombie could have dreamed up on a lazy Sunday afternoon. The only reason Anti-Christ isn't placed with the Hostels and the H2's of the world is merely because it's so well shot. It wants you to think that this is important film making but nothing from the film apart from it's violence is memorable and worthy of a re-watch, unless of course your studying cinematography.

Not that Von Trier cares what anyone thinks of his movie. He is a man who just wants to make sure he got your attention no matter how. It's a shame because sometimes with the right focus he's made some interesting projects but for every Dogville there's an The Idiots and Anti-christ falls insipidly into the latter category.