Antichrist (18)

Film image

The ViewBirmingham Review

StarStarStarStarNo Star
Review byMatthew Turner22/07/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 104 mins

Beautifully directed, impressively acted drama that's not nearly as controversial or as shocking as the press reports would have you believe and actually works surprisingly well as a black comedy about why you should never marry a psychiatrist.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Lars Von Trier, Antichrist opens with a beautifully shot, black and white, slow motion sequence of a married couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) having sex (to the sounds of opera music) while their infant son crawls onto a desk and then out of an open window, whereupon he plunges to his death. Seemingly unaffected by grief, the husband (a psychiatrist) whisks his wife away to Eden, an aptly-named, isolated woodland cottage, where he attempts to help her recover from her anguish by talking monotonously at her for hours on end.

Unsurprisingly, the wife's reaction is to lash out at her husband and her attacks become more and more ferocious as she begins to crack up under the strain. However, it also appears that nature itself is conspiring against the couple, particularly when a talking fox and a seemingly unkillable crow show up.

The Good
The film is beautifully shot, with gorgeous cinematography by Anthony Dod Mantle and clever use of effects that give Eden a nightmarish, fairy-tale-like quality. In addition, the acting is superb, with both Dafoe and Gainsbourg delivering fearless, raw performances that are extremely powerful.

Antichrist's shocking reputation rests on two scenes of genital mutilation, both of which are admittedly horrible, but they're also clearly effects shots and you don't see the actors in shot at the time. It's also been accused of rampant misogyny, but, to be fair, Dafoe's character is, if anything, the least likeable of the two and you'll be hard pressed not to cheer when Gainsbourg drops a concrete block on his balls.

The Great
Essentially, Antichrist is a psychological horror movie with moments of jet black comedy – it's impossible to believe, for example, that the opening scene was intended to be taken seriously and both the talking fox and the scene with Dafoe punching crows are hilarious.

Worth seeing?
Antichrist is a beautifully shot, powerfully acted and frequently disturbing drama, but it's also darkly funny. Ultimately, it's one of those films that you have to make up your own mind about, but don't be put off by the hysterical press reports.

Film Trailer

Antichrist (18)
Antichrist has been reviewed by 1 users
01 Focus (15)

Will Smith, Margot Robbie, Rodrigo Santoro

02 Selma (12A)

David Oyelowo, Carmen Ejogo, Tim Roth

03 Far from the Madding Crowd (tbc)

Carey Mulligan, Tom Sturridge, Matthias Schoenaert...

04 Chappie (tbc)

Hugh Jackman, Sigourney Weaver, Sharlto Copley

05 A Most Violent Year (15)

Oscar Isaac, Jessica Chastain, David Oyelowo

Content updated: 10/12/2018 13:39

Latest Film Reviews

Film Blog

Urban Pundit

Keep up to date with everything in film and cinema at Urban Pundit, the exciting new blog.

Film of the Week

The Conjuring (15)

Hugely enjoyable, genuinely scary horror flick that provides a welcome throwback to classic 1970s chillers, thanks to impeccable production design, a superb script, powerfully atmospheric direction, intense set-pieces and terrific performances.

Latest Close Up

Noah Baumbach Interview

The Frances Ha director discusses co-writing the script with Greta Gerwig, shooting against the backdrop of New York and the real lives of the city’s people, Greta Gerwig’s performance, the music in the film and the picture's visual style.