Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Horrorathon Day 27: ANTICHRIST (Lars Von Trier, 2009)

The most controversial film of the year is little more than what any Lars Von Trier opus is; an exercise in massive ego stroking and blithe, indulgent misanthropy. As Armond White said in his review of Antichrist, "Von Trier's never made a good film." Yeah, spot on Armond. From the formalistic masturbation of The Element of Crime to the...formalistic masturbation of Breaking the Waves, each film from his oeuvre
has no real interest in its human subjects. Like another comparable nihilist - Jared Hess - the intent of the form is undermined by the horrendous circumstances Von Trier seems to enjoy seeing his characters writhe in. Pain, despair, bodily malfunction, self-mutilation; they're all part of his superficial game. He is a filmmaker whom deserves no real notice or consideration. His films become controversial because of such easy muck-raking, like the title of the film. What's most damning of Von Trier, though, is that he has nothing to actually voice or say in any of his narratives, especially Antichirst, which plays more like a tonally smug, thematically barren wasteland, with no other purpose than for Von Trier to see if he can, yet again, one-up himself.

So He (Willem Defoe) and She (Charlotte Gainsbourg) venture into the woods, attempting to confront the fears of She, who deems the woods her ultimate phobia. This follows a black & white, slo-mo prologue, in which the pair, fucking, neglect She's child, who falls out the window to his death. In these woods, there seems to be no definable sense of reality for either character. Von Trier wishes to suggest that the goings on exist in some meta form, as if an Edenic paradise has sprouted, yet contains things which transgress nature; this includes deformed animals, the abnormal falling of acorns and periods of psychological trickery. The latter is a solid example of Von Trier's nastiness. She, grappling with the death of her son, hears a cry, but can't place it. She searches, the cry evoking her still unconquered grief. The scene ultimately comes to nothing. It's followed by similar scenes, which showcase bodily pain and mental anguish. And that Von Trier dresses these going on up in a pretty, saturated aesthetic, only further proves his disinterest, perhaps even ignorance to what constitutes artistic merit, as it relates to humanity. Von Trier is a faux-humanist, who places his despondent characters in scenarios of hardship and pain, but ultimately just exploits it to prove no point and only highlight how proud he is of the shots he composes.

The particulars of Antichrist aren't even that interesting, because it is all coated in nastiness, disgust. Whether or not Lars Von Trier actually hates humanity is unknown, but that he ends this film by dedicating it to Andrei Tarkovsky, should put to rest the myth that Von Trier actually has any true chops as a competent, profound filmmaker.

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