The Greatest Movies We Never Want to See Again: ‘Antichrist’
Like Michael Haneke, Lars Von Trier is another director whose films are often great, but so unflinchingly bleak that you may never want to sit through them ever again. ‘Antichrist,’ released in 2009, follows a man (Willem Dafoe) and his wife (Charlotte Gainsbourg) — credited only as “Man” and “Woman” — as they travel to the countryside to ease the grief and guilt felt by the woman following the shocking death of their young child, who fell out of a window while the couple made love. Gainsbourg gives an incredibly dark performance as the woman, whose previous thesis research on the evil of women in the days of witch-hunts may be of more import than her husband realized. The film plays with ideas of women who are convinced to hate themselves because of society and history, and the ways men seek to control and “calm” them, wrapped up in the beauty of a provocative art film with the trappings of horror presented in one of the most horrific mutilation scenes ever committed to film. And while that mutilation is indeed shocking, the sequence itself serves as a grand — albeit blunt and heavy-handed — metaphor about gender psychology.