Dios Mio: AntiChrist (Flix of Fear #2)

Alright, two brief notes right up front: 1) This review was started in the beginning of November. I don’t even remember why I didn’t finish it, but by the time I came back to it, AntiChrist was out of the theaters, so I didn’t think it would do anyone much good. Which leads me to…

2) I only dug this out because it gave me an opportunity to (re)start my “Flix of Fear” column, where I highlight stuff you can find on Netflix’s incredible “instant watch” program.

Here’s what I had to say shortly after leaving the theater:

The last 30 minutes of Lars von Trier’s Antichrist is the cinematic equivalent of being punched in the face. I mean that as a compliment.

Even though I rarely watch trailers and avoid film synopses like the plague, you can’t turn around on the internet without bumping into an article on how “shocking” this film is. So it’s not that I went into the film unprepared. Last week in fact, the proliferation of von Trier’s controversy followed me off of the internet and into the real world. I was doing my normal eavesdropping in class when a fellow student began talking about the bizarre theater going experience he had: a woman urinated a few seats over from him. You heard that right, von Trier’s climax was supposedly so shocking it could make you pee yourself. Needless to say I made the trip to the theater shortly after hearing that.
I have very little experience with von Trier’s work and what I have seen I haven’t been too big a fan of (2003’s Dogville, for example). I usually have a very low tolerance for self-indulgence, but the film’s much talked about slow-motion opening sequence won me over almost immediately. This brings us to the one thing that can be universally agreed on about Antichrist: it is a beautiful film. Shot by frequent Danny Boyle collaborator and Oscar winner Anthony Dod Mantle the film’s aesthetic veers wildly from the lush vibrant greens of the forest to gothic foreboding compositions of the same world turned upside down. […]

That’s where the original write-up ended, I was about to start listing the things I didn’t like about the film, but instead why don’t we skip to my new and improved ending?

The bright side of not blogging about this directly after seeing it is that I’ve had a chance to digest von Trier’s film a bit more. How does it hold up a few months later? While I still can’t get the last few sequences out of my head, the flaws are still there. BUT, if a movie can jar me like that, I’m willing to put up with a lot. von Trier makes you put up with a lot though, my original, knee-jerk reaction to the dialogue and pacing of the film was that dreaded and oft-used phrase: over-indulgent. I still partially believe that.

BUT…

Once you get over the hurtles that the film places in your way, you recognize the cojones on display in AntiChrist: two actors, a cinematographer and a (possibly insane) director going full on, unapologetic-ally for broke. Now that, my friends, is worth watching at least once.

I know you have a Netflix subscription: Go watch it.

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