After the heart wrenching circumstances of losing their son, a grieving couple, played by Willem Defoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, take refuge in their cabin in the woods, where they encounter bizarre occurences. The film is broken down into four parts: prologue, chapter one through three, and epilogue.
Review: The opening prologue is like a cinematic opera-ballet. Lars von Trier, the director who gave us Dogville, paints his canvas in slow motion catching every nuance and emotion. How Spieiberg’s Saving Private Ryan was acclaimed to be the greatest and most violent first thirty minutes in cinematic history, Trier’s opening seven minute prologue matches that on equal and opposite end of the spectrum.
In Chapter One and Two, we watch the mother spiral downward into her anguish as her husband, a psychiatrist, patiently and singularly tries to bring her through it. This is quite selfish on his part. There is a scene where they’re on a train and he’s walking her through a closed-eyed almost hypnotic therapy session trying to get to the root of her fears. In this session, she is walking towards “Eden”, their cabin in the woods, and it’s a long shot view with a full creek and a bridge straight away. You see a figure on the bridge. The figure moved ever so slowly; I actually thought I was watching a still photograph. I kept my eyes on the distant figure in white, concentrating intently and noticed it was in fact moving. The few sequences following were the same. It’s the most unusual editing technique I have ever seen.
The couple agrees it would be best to face her fears straight on, so they take to the cabin “Eden”. Chapter Three and the Epilogue arrive. It’s all about avant-garde to the extreme, pushing boundaries simply for the sake of gaining a response from the viewer; provocative, ghastly, horrific and riddled with symbolism.
This movie did not be breaking any box office records, wasn’t for a wide audience. It’s a horror ‘Art House’ flick. You need to have the patience of a saint, the understanding of the content before you’re in your seat at the theater and the open mindedness of Salvador Dali on one of his hallucinogenic trips.
Rating: 7.5/10 stars
Running time: 104 minutes
Here is another version of the films poster below. It is much more symbolic of their relationship. Graphically it’s fantastic. Two people, shaped as scissors that cut up and destroy each other. The original poster used to market the movie is eerie, with copious body parts intertwined in the tree as the couple copulates makes for a creepy image. But it doesn’t embody the movie with graphic precision as this one does.