November 13, 2009 at 8:52 am

Tom Long Film Review: 'Antichrist' -- GRADE: A-

Review: 'Antichrist' a revolting ode to evil

Charlotte Gainsbourg is a mother who's drowning in depression and mourning after her young son falls to his death in "Antichrist." (IFC Films)

Self-loathing, mean, ugly and perfectly made, "Antichrist" is probably the best film ever that you'd recommend to absolutely no one.

This is modern high horror, no monsters needed beyond a grieving, nameless couple played by Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg in wrenching, guts-out performances.

As the film opens, their toddler falls from an upstairs window to its death in slow-motion awfulness. The father mourns and then recovers; the mother doesn't, hanging on to her grief and riding it through all manner of psycho-physical reactions.

He, it turns out, is a therapist, and after wrestling with his wife's anguish for months, he decides to take her to a remote cabin where she can learn to face herself.

But the reasons behind her guilt, indeed the seething creature of confusion and hatred behind her mask, are revealed in such an isolated environ. And suddenly the road to mental health becomes horribly twisted.

Danish writer-director-provocateur Lars Trier ("Dogville," "Breaking the Waves") is as masterful a filmmaker as he is apparently a damaged soul. Yes, he gets a bit carried away with symbols and surreal images, and he leaves the viewer hanging in the film's final moment, but this is a European art film, after all.

Make that a European art film with some of the most revolting footage ever shown -- self-mutilation, ingenious torture, panicked intercourse at every turn that itself becomes a form of brutality.

Watching "Antichrist" is an exhausting, blood-draining, disturbing experience, but then that's precisely what it's supposed to be.

It's easier to say this film is great than it is to call it good; indeed, if ever evil saturated the big screen, it is with this movie. Be careful of its fire; it burns.

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