Synopsis: Starring Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, the “Dogville” director’s latest thriller follows the story of a grieving couple who retreat to their cabin in the woods, “Eden,” hoping to repair their broken hearts and troubled marriage. But nature takes its course and things evolve badly.
Round-up: Not being bold enough is not likely to be one of the criticisms to meet Lars Von Trier's "Antichrist", which caused quite the stir in its press screenings at Cannes. Roger Ebert called it the most despairing film he's ever seen: "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." Reuters reported that the film's screening "elicited derisive laughter, gasps of disbelief, a smattering of applause and loud boos." In the article, Von Trier was quoted as saying: "I can offer no excuse for 'Antichrist' ... other than my absolute belief in the film -- the most important film of my entire career!" In a blog entry entitled "Antichrist = Fartbomb,"Jeffrey Wells seems to disagree, calling the film "easily one of the biggest debacles in Cannes Film Festival history and the complete meltdown of a major film artist in a way that invites comparison to the sinking of the Titanic." Austin 360's Charles Ealy, however, said he felt like he just experienced a moment in cinematic history. "The movie’s violence has an emotional impact that hasn’t been seen since Gaspar Noe’s 'Irreversible,' which premiered here a few years ago," he says. "Critics will be debating whether these images were justified by the story, but part of the point is apparently to shock. Cinematic precedents exist, of course, but the explicitness of these scenes take “Antichrist” way beyond what’s come before." indieWIRE's own Anthony Kaufman also found cautiously positive things to say about the film in his review, noting that "while there’s no doubt that the place he goes is off a precipitous edge, one can’t deny the film’s continuing primal power." Finally, in a not-quite review , Entertainment Weekly's Lisa Schwarzbaum suggests it was "the kind of scandal-courting press premiere on Sunday evening that the wily Danish bad-boy filmmaker must have hoped for": "The movie looks almost tauntingly great, of course, with von Trier's longtime collaborator (and Slumdog Millionaire Oscar winner) Anthony Dod Mantle as cinematographer. So 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."