Lars Von Trier’s latest film Antichrist has premiered at the Cannes Film Festival, and according to Reuters, the film “elicited derisive laughter, gasps of disbelief, a smattering of applause and loud boos.”
I have rounded up some of the reviews, which range from “I think I might have loved it, I’m not sure” to “this film needs to be burned”. Check out the excerpts after the jump.
Roger Ebert: “…goes beyond malevolence into the monstrous. Never before have a man and woman inflicted more pain upon each other in a movie. We looked in disbelief.” … “Whether this is a bad, good or great film is entirely beside the point. It is an audacious spit in the eye of society. It says we harbor an undreamed-of capacity for evil. It transforms a psychological treatment into torture undreamed of in the dungeons of history. Torturers might have been capable of such actions, but they would have lacked the imagination. Von Trier is not so much making a film about violence as making a film to inflict violence upon us, perhaps as a salutary experience. It’s been reported that he suffered from depression during and after the film. You can tell. This is the most despairing film I’ve ever have seen.”
Jeff Wells: “easily one of the biggest debacles in Cannes Film Festival history and the complete meltdown of a major film artist” … “There’s no way Antichrist isn’t a major career embarassment for costars Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, and a possible career stopper for Von Trier.” … “It’s an out-and-out disaster — one of the most absurdly on-the-nose, heavy-handed and unintentionally comedic calamities I’ve ever seen in my life.” … “…amateurishly awful.”
Entertainment Weekly: “It’s one good-looking, publicity-grabbing provocation, with an overlay of pseudo-Christian allegory thrown in to deflect a reasonable person’s accusations of misogyny. As a kicker, the director dedicates the picture to the memory of the great Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky–a final flip of the bird to the Cannes audience. And oh, how our audience took the bait! But then, there’s always at least one film at this outsized, obstreperous, one-of-a-kind film festival each year that’s pre-determined to freak out the press-pass-wearing populace. Consider the crowd (including the belligerent European gent who nearly knocked me over shoving to get through the gate) happily, perfunctorily scandalized.”
FirstShowing: “I think I enjoyed it. See that’s the problem – Antichrist is fucked up. In a good way? Or in a bad way? Even I don’t know the answer to that question (or maybe that’s something you’ll decide for yourself), but I can tell you it’s one hell of an exhilarating experience watching this. My gut feeling coming out of it is that I actually liked it, screwed up or not.”
Variety: “Lars von Trier cuts a big fat art-film fart with Antichrist. As if deliberately courting critical abuse.” … ” Traveling deep into NC-17 territory, this may prove a great date movie for pain-is-pleasure couples. Otherwise, most of the director’s usual fans will find this outing risible, off-putting or both”
Reuters: “elicited derisive laughter, gasps of disbelief, a smattering of applause and loud boos” … “Jeers and laughter broke out during scenes ranging from a talking fox to graphically-portrayed sexual mutilation.”
TheWrap : “an utterly strange and deeply perverted take on the horror genre.” … “At first, it’s an elegant grief drama. Then — suddenly, shockingly — it transforms into “The Shining” meets Evil Dead with green politics, torture porn and a fair amount of Lynchian abstractions.” … “heavily graphic moments keenly designed to make you cringe, including a couple of genitalia gags worthy of Jack Smith.” … “Gripped by the calculation of the design, I think I loved it, but might have been blindsighted by the sheer audacity of its twisted conception. Like many audience members from tonight’s crowd, I need to let it sit for awhile — in my nightmares, most likely.
Movileline: “beautiful, violent, and cringe-inducing” … “It would appear his bout of depression has awoken the filmmaker we grew to love (and hate) in the 1990s: Antichrist is the most original and though-provoking work von Trier has done since Breaking the Waves. That said, I might entirely change my mind tomorrow — yet another reason why this film is remarkable. RATING (out of 10): 9″
Austin360 : “Director Lars Von Trier has made a movie that looks like it will be more controversial than anything he’s ever done, and that’s saying quite a bit.” … “Since you’re emotionally invested in the characters, the violence that comes later is all the more shocking. It makes scenes from “Hostel,” one of the so-called gore porn movies, seem tame.” … “It would be a disservice to describe the violence, which would qualify for the one of the hardest NC-17 ratings ever. Let’s just say that it involves sex and sexual organs.” … “you’ll have to see this movie to believe it.”