Missed it in Cannes, but caught it at Fantastic Fest (a week ahead of its debut at the New York Film Festival): Lars von Trier’s Antichrist. I’m an undying fan of Lars von Trier, I even enjoy some of the lesser-loved features like The Boss Of It All. Arguably his most anticipated film since Dogville, the new film received some tough love at Cannes, and instantly became a hot topic. What I wanna talk about here, though, is not the film itself but more how I recommend people view it. First, I like Antichrist a lot. I think it’s a smart and dark and layered rumination about men and women trying to find their love amidst turbulent outside forces. There is plenty of shocking imagery and disturbing moments, most of which doesn’t come until the second hour (you’ve been warned). Until those moments, though, the terrific performances by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg carry the film through bleak and devastating terrain. You’re not really sure whose side you’re on, because both of the characters are guilty of a lack of compassion and feeling. This may feel like a tedious process to some viewers, but you have to stick with it, to get the full impact.
And, that brings me to how I think you should view it. While I wholeheartedly support VOD (did you know?), and 150% of my energy is spent trying to support VOD, I think Antichrist needs to be seen on the big screen where available. If you live in a city where it’s not opening theatrically, then go for it, watch it on VOD if nothing else. But if you live in one of the markets scheduled to book the film (starting October 23 in New York at the IFC Center), do yourself a favor and see it in a theater. Not only because it’s a beautifully-filmed and expansive visual experience, but because the rhythm and tone of the film locks you down, in a way that a big cinema screen only can. See it, no matter what, but ideally on a bigger screen.