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Lars von Trier’s ‘Antichrist’ at Cannes
Is the Danish director a visionary artist, or just an “arch-provocateur”?
 

Danish director Lars von Trier’s new film Antichrist “has left audiences at Cannes shaken, stirred—and sharply divided,” said Jill Lawless in the Associated Press. Starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg as a married couple who retreat to their cabin in the woods after the death of their toddler, the movie’s “relentless tension and almost unbearably explicit scenes of violence, including genital mutilation,” evoked “gasps” and “boos” from some viewers, and “titters” and “applause” from others. (watch the trailer for Antichrist)

“There’s always one film in the Cannes competition selection that seems calculated to outrage in the most cynical and manipulative way imaginable,” said Wendy Ide in the London Times. “This year, that film is Antichrist.” Lars von Trier is an “arch-provocateur.” It's not the work he “finds so cathartic, but the attention that results from the shockingly graphic mutilations in the movie’s overwrought final act.”

Antichrist does suggest that “bad-boy director Lars von Trier” may have “finally become unhinged,” said Peter Brunette in The Hollywood Reporter. But the movie works well on a “purely visual level,” and it’s “teeming with grandiose if often fascinating ideas,” such as nature being “cruel and vicious and completely antithetical to human welfare.” Von Trier’s “most ardent fans will want to see” Antichrist—“and they should.”

 

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