Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsborough play He and She, the only cast members in the film, who had a great relationship until their son died from falling from the apartment building, unsupervised since He and She were having sex at the time. The couple is griefstriken, but while He takes it in a normal and realistic way, She can’t seem to cope with the loss, and begins to act worse and worse. Deciding to confront her fears, they take her to the place she is most afraid of: the woods. Soon, their marriage will crumble even worse, and before you can say snap, blood and genitals will be mutilated.
I’m shocked. Yes, this movie really shocked me. Not because of it’s supposed mysoginy, sexual violence, gore or graphic sex, I love that shit in my movies. No, I’m shocked that this film could get such a huge reaction from critics and audiences alike, when it’s such a dull, boring film. I’ve never been a fan of Lars Von Trier. I hate the Element of Crime, Dogville, and his bullshit film movement which I like to call Dogshit 95. But this movie had so much hype, I had to see it just to calm my extensive curiosity. Now granted, there are positives in the film. For one, the cinematography by cameraman Anthony Dod Mentle is gorgeous, evoking 60’s Japanese cinema in some shots, and Sin City in others. When we get to the woods, the camera really captures it’s beauty. The acting is my favorite par, however. Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsborough are both excellent actors, they both look very realistic and share great chemistry together. Charlotte in particular is able to really play up her frenzied, fractured mind into one of the most insane performances of all time.
And believe the hype, the film is very sexual and very violent. We get some penetration during the sex scenes, but they were probably using body doubles. The violence is the main ouch factor, however. SPOILER ALERT! In the third act, She hits His testicles with a wooden plank so hard that it is implied they are crushed. While He is unconscious, she masturbates him until he ejaculates blood. She then drills a hole through his shin to bolt him onto a grindstone. In a later scene, She cuts off her own clitoris with a pair of rusty scissors. Nasty business, I must say.
But sadly, not even Dafoe’s nice ass is able to save the film from how bland, dull and uninteresting the film is. If I wanted to see two hours of a couple arguing, I would have gone with my parents to visit San Juan. Von Trier should stick to writing and leave the directing part to somebody who knows how to give energy into a film.