I’m not sure what this says about me but I didn’t go and see this in the cinema as I was/am bored with being shaken out of my bourgeois complacency. A sense of duty led me to the DVD and it shook me out of my bourgeois complacency for a while – thanks Lars.
The super slow motion of the opening scene must rank amongst the most beautiful in cinema (curse myself for not going to the cinema) while, of course given it’s von Trier, also challenging to watch (no spoilers here). The film deals with parents’ grief but it’s clear that von Trier isn’t dealing in realism (the Dogme 95 manifesto has long been consigned to the mid-’90s though this is shot on location) but an Expressionist landscape that dramatises the mental state of the mother (the incredible Charlotte Gainsbourg). It’s a film concocted by David Lynch with Takeshi Miike and directed by von Trier; which is to say it is a film that should be seen. However, only if you’re ready to look away from either, or both, the sex and violence.
The film lost me in the final half hour as I couldn’t work out whether it was offering a misogynist statement or if I was missing something. Catherine Wheatley’s Sight and Sound (August 2009) review suggests it’s useless to ask what the film means and describes the film as ‘bedding down like a parasite’ in the viewer’s psyche. That’s about right.