LAURA O’HER­LIHY UN­EM­PLOYED, DUBLIN

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Reviews -

I’m not a big hor­ror movie fan, and this came off as an arty ver­sion of tor­ture porn films like Saw. It has a touch of 1970s hor­ror be­cause of ref­er­ences to na­ture and pa­gan­ism, but it feels as though von Trier is hit­ting his au­di­ence over the head and I won­dered what the point of it was. I ex­pected it to be shock­ing, but it wasn’t. Even the fe­male gen­i­tal mu­ti­la­tion scene didn’t shock me.

What I didn’t ex­pect was that it would be so re­lent­lessly grim. There was no hap­pi­ness to the film, in the way that Break­ing the Waves has a cer­tain in­no­cence and joy. The sex scenes were just an­i­mal­is­tic cou­pling – there was no ex­pres­sion of love in any­thing Dafoe and Gains­bourg did. I’m guess­ing von Trier was try­ing to tell us that Na­ture is all pow­er­ful and that it’s fem­i­nine, but that too much of that power is evil. It was all a bit ob­vi­ous, and if he was clev­erer, it wouldn’t have come across that way.

On the whole, it wasn’t be­liev­able. Dafoe’s per­for­mance was laboured and the pro­logue re­sem­bled an early 1990s in­sur­ance ad. Art should en­lighten and uplift and this doesn’t.

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