Anthony Dod Mantle
Karl "Kalli" Juliusson
Meta Louise Foldager, co-producers: Lars Jönsson, Madeleine Ekman, Andrea Occhipinti, Malgorzata Szumowska, Ole Østergaard
Lucky Red, Zentropa Entertainments (Hvidovre), Slot Machine (Paris), Liberator Production (Paris), Memfis Film International (Oslo), Trollhättan Film (Oslo), Małgorzata Szumowska (Berlin)
35mm - colour
Dolby Digital Surround
festival & awards:
The film follows an unnamed couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, both of whom deliver extraordinary performances) as they deal with the loss of their infant son. She collapses at the funeral and is hospitalized, but her psychologist husband decides to care for her himself – and insists that she “deal” with her fears. When he learns that she's terrified of their cottage, which they've forebodingly named Eden, he forces her to confront her terror of the place. It's hardly paradise on earth. Few films have ever presented such a dark vision of the wilderness (even acorns are threatening). Shot in a deeply chilling and unsettling style that combines both the rigorously choreographed, symbol-laden universe of Russian master Andrei Tarkovsky (to whom the film is dedicated) and recent Japanese horror movies, Antichrist is a vision of hell, proffering nightmarish, essentialized portraits of the sexes. The wife is irrational and explosive; the husband controlling and dismissive. Initially, perhaps because Dafoe's character is conventionally rational, we're more disturbed by the wife's behaviour, but as the film proceeds and he has nothing to offer but increasingly fatuous pop-psychology bromides, we begin to question both his motives and his perspicacity. That said, it's rather misleading to discuss them as individual characters, since we're deep in the realm of allegory. Chaucer and Boccaccio wouldn't be uncomfortable with the basic set-up. The film is driven by a deep-seated awareness of evil and a horror of what we're capable of doing and thinking.