Bopping with Niall JP O'Leary

Niall O'Leary insists on sharing his hare-brained notions and hysterical emotions. Personal obsessions with cinema, literature, food and alcohol feature regularly.

Sunday, July 26, 2009


Lars Von Trier's new movie, 'Antichrist' received a lot of ridicule at this year's Cannes festival. A couple, grieving at the loss of their child, end up in a forest cabin and resort to torturing each other. Well, one ends up predominantly torturing the other. Is it that bad, or is it, as some would hold, a misunderstood masterpiece?
With its supernatural undertones, forest setting, talking animals and hints at possession this plays like nothing so much as an 'arthouse' take on 'The Evil Dead'. Sadly it is nowhere near as much fun. Willem Defoe (one suspects chosen for his previous Christ role) and Charlotte Gainsbourg give their all, but this is sadistic, iconoclastic twaddle. Von Trier shows once more that he can't write and some very arch dialogue alienates the audience from the outset. As director, he does manage some beauty and often does create an eerie effect, but just as often he has the audience laughing unintentionally, as with a ludicrous talking fox episode. Of course, there will be those fooled by his pretentious junk and he has enough arthouse concepts thrown in to have the Film Studies departments hailing him for the auteur he no doubt is. Certainly no one else but Von Trier should take the blame for offensive rubbish like this. And I am not even talking about the very uncomfortable violence; that I can (almost) accept. The blatant misogyny, however, I cannot accept.
Hold on, Niall! You're missing the whole point! This is about the brutalisation of women over the centuries and the inevitable outcome; afterall it is Gainsbourg's character who suffers most for the visit of the Three Beggars (Pain, Grief and Despair). I can hear those defenders now. NO! Von Trier is a sly misogynist and delights in degrading, hurting and punishing women for nothing more than what he perceives as their nature. He did this in 'Breaking the Waves', 'Dogville' and I suspect (as I haven't had the interest to see it), 'Dancing in the Dark'. Defend it as much as you like; there comes a point when the obvious is just a little too obvious. Once upon a time I was a fan of Von Trier's iconoclasm. 'The Kingdom', 'The Idiots', 'Europa' were films I could admire for their bravura in terms of style and effect. The more I have seen, however, the more disillusioned I have become. 'Antichrist' does not reverse this trend. Misery for sadism's sake.

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