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Horror Movie released Oct. 23,2009; directed by Lars Von Trier

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What Gained It The Most Attention, Ultimately Dragged Down Its Real Potential.

  • Dec 22, 2009
  • by
I have never heard of the work of Lars Von Trier and I have only ever heard mutterings, both positive and negative, of his skills as a director. I am afraid that I am going to lean towards the negatives and agree with the one claim of the director being pretentious. The movie is not a bad effort and actually provided quite a disturbing viewing experience whilst still maintaining my interest throughout. In the UK and, undoubtedly the rest of the world, this film has drawn massive controversy for its graphic sexual depictions and other depictions of self mutilation. There are times when the graphic violence or sexual nature work for the purpose of the plot structure, yet there are other times when the graphic nature appears as a gratuitous insult to my visual senses. The sheer lack of subtlety is what really made me rate this film quite low as in my own perspective; a good director can show as little as possible of the core event of a scene whilst still creating the same desired impact and gaining the same desired reaction from the audience. 

The plot focuses around He & She, Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg. At the start of the film we see this couple locked in a passionate sexual encounter whilst their young baby boy, Nic falls to his death from a bedroom window. The film is split into four chapters; Grief, Pain (Chaos Reigns), Despair (Gynocide) and The Three Beggars. Chapter 1 shows She wrapped with grief at the death of their child and after collapsing during his funeral she is put in hospital. He, being distrustful of the Psychological care she is receiving, decides to take it upon himself to give her therapy to help her get over the grief of their dead son. During the therapy sessions she keeps visiting an old log cabin located deep in a forest known as Eden. This is her worst fear and it is revealed that this was a cabin where she spent her last summer with Nic whilst she was writing her thesis on Gynocide. He decides that the best way to help her overcome her grief is to visit this cabin and have her confront her fear, little is known at the beginning but the cabin starts to make things a whole lot worse as she falls deeper and deeper into her own insanity. 

At the initial glance of the trailers of the film and the numerous reports you would read about it, you would be forgiven for thinking this is in any way a horror film. It is not. It is more a psychological thriller as you see both characters destroyed in their own way by the torturous grief resulting from the death of their infant son. Dafoe at the time of making this film is quite a respected actor, but I felt his role in this film was is attempt at something new, sort of a stepping outside the box if you will. His acting was a worthy pleasantry and his placement within the film seemed to work even though I did find that in some of his scenes he seemed particularly awkward. Gainsbourg plays her role spectacularly especially when she delves further and further into the depiction of pure insanity. They had a perfect chemistry with each other and when you consider the types of acts they had to engage into together, it was something that had to exist in order for the film to really work specifically when its entire attention is focused solely around these two characters. 

Lars Von Trier seems to be a bit of a fan of slow motion as, aside from the initial opening credits, there were a number of moments throughout the film when he would adopt the same slow motion technique and some of them just seemed to be utterly ridiculous. The setting of Eden was a very haunting one and you can sincerely come to terms as to the possible reasons of why this place would become a woman's worst nightmare. The controversial moments are what interested people and had them talking about this film and some of them in particular; I can not help but think they were deliberately graphic for the sake of grabbing some cheap media attention. Not being wholly familiar with other Von Trier works I can not compare this to any of his other work to really define whether this was a deliberate attention grabbing device or something that is used throughout his other films. 

Overall this is a really good film. It is dark, sick and twisted and if you are of a nervous disposition then I would strongly recommend you give this a miss, or at least have a go at trying to get hold of some form of edited version as the acting alone makes the film worth a watch which is sad in one way as the thing which grabbed it the most attention was the thing, in my eyes, which dragged the quality of the film downwards.

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review by . December 05, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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Quick Tip by . January 02, 2012
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review by . October 25, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
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About the reviewer
Steven Stewart ()
Ranked #47
Currently studying Law at University, my main interests revolve around Politics. I read quite a lot and love learning about History. Not just the history of a specific time, place and person, but I'm … more
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