There's plenty of drama to be found in the relations between a husband and wife, between men and women, and with the process of grief. Antichrist, written and directed by Lars von Trier, loses that in pretention.

The unnamed leads, played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourgh, are grieving: Their young child fell out a window to his death while the parents were in coitus. She has a mental breakdown and He, a psychiatrist, decides to take control of Her care -- despite Her objections and saying He's more interested in Her as a patient than a spouse. After working on her "pyramid of pain," He decides they need to go to Eden, the isolated woods where She said She feels the most fear.

Despite the name, Eden is far from paradise. While He tries exercises and soothing sayings, She seems to drift further away. There are also rains of acorns, talking animals, and lots of slow-motion and ominous chords. Plus there's the movie's descent into psycho woman (complete with torture and self-mutilation) and primal man.

Antichrist is hard to sit through -- but more from tedium than its last-act extreme violence. While the differences between the couple are interesting at first -- She tries to discuss their problems, while He hides behind psychological phrases and gimmicks -- von Trier allows his film to be swallowed by cinematic tricks and, sadly, cliches. Some critics have discussed this film's misogyny -- She tells Him "a crying woman is a scheming woman;" Her thesis is on migogyny against treatment, which she eventually believes -- but that is only one of this movie's many excesses. Dafoe and Gainsbourgh do what they can with their roles, but they are finally lost among the gimmicks. Ignore the talking fox and heed this talking critic: Skip Antichrist.

Overall grade: D
Reviewed by James Lynch

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