Lars von Trier’s Antichrist

Lars von Trier, Antichrist, 2009, still from a black-and-white and color film in 35 mm, 109 minutes. She (Charlotte Gainsbourg).

LARS VON TRIER’S ANTICHRIST had provoked audiences at Cannes to boos, laughter, condemnation, and the occasional declaration of genius two months before making its way into a small theater in Greenwich Village on a gorgeous summer morning this past July. Waiting for the screening to begin, a small group of critics paged absently through the press kit while serenaded by a cleverly selected sound track: Serge Gainsbourg (the father of Antichrist’s female lead, Charlotte Gainsbourg) and Brigitte Bardot performing their 1967 pop hit “Bonnie and Clyde,” and Johnny Cash and June Carter singing their duet “Jackson,” a song about failed passion, sexual bravado, and the ever-present threat of intimate humiliation. Whoever set up the theater for the screening clearly had a sense of humor, something one cannot fail to appreciate as a salutary antidote to the toxic glibness of von Trier, who

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