Bad Movies II

film 3 of 5


Film Review by Dean Duncan Jun 17, 2015

This film’s opening sequence combines two famous scenes from Nicolas Roeg’s Don’t Look Now (1973): the child’s death at the beginning, and the spouses’ extended amorous tryst in the middle. Lars Von Trier, the director of Antichrist, pays homage to Roeg and his film by tossing a toddler out an upper-story window while his parents cavort laughably all over their apartment. This is probably a statement of principle—fearless! unflinching!—as well as a really concise expression of what’s wrong with the guy. It’s dramatic and psychological implausibility, vying endlessly with cruel sadism. That does not mean Brecht + Zola, or even Brecht + Artaud. Actually, eventually it probably means that von Trier just deserves to be ignored.

I’ll give them this: it’s quite beautifully shot. Poor Charlotte Gainsbourg is remarkable. I said “poor,” but isn’t this partly her fault? She could have said no. Or, as we need to remember when encountering material like this, it’s quite possible that the participants consented, and that they in some way sustain the statement, or the exploration, or whatever. (As in Gainsbourg/von Trier, pts. I and II, 1913.) Does that sound smug, and self-righteous? It’s always possible that we’re missing something, and it’s always probable that there are depths of sorrow or trauma or aspiration that we know not of. But it’s not at all smug or self-righteous to feel affronted, and get out of there.

Some of the Boschian tableaux are very impressive. As for the conclusion, the genital prostheses, etc., the mind struggles to explain or articulate. Also, the mind is hard pressed to find a reason to bother trying.