Rated NR 100 minutes 2009

Lars von Trier’s psychosexual horror/art melodrama sends grieving parents Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg to a cabin deep in the primeval forest to thrash out their feelings over the death of their young son. They do so in extreme ways: rough sex, ritualistic midnight masturbation, a whiff of witchcraft, self-mutilation, torture, and listening to the talking animals, who inform them, “Chaos reigns!” The performances are strong and powerful, the cinematography (by Anthony Dod Mantle) gorgeously morose, but von Trier constantly undermines his own material. The hysteria borders on parody at times, and writer-director von Trier’s references to his forebears — August Strindberg, Carl Dreyer, Andrei Tarkovsky, Ingmar Bergman — are outweighed by the increasingly gratuitous-looking shocks. An example of the potential pitfalls of “personal” filmmaking (109 min.).

Film Credits

Official Site:

Director: Lars von Trier

Writer: Lars von Trier

Producer: Meta Louise Foldager

Cast: Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg


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