I might be one of the very few people who are ultimately on the fence about this film. It is definitely one most people will love or hate. Visually, this film is absolutely stunning. It’s beautifully shot, and the frequent dream-state feel of it is very effective. I would watch it again for the visuals alone.
Having said that, I cringed through 90% of this movie. When Willem Defoe (who plays “He”) isn’t helping his wife Charlotte Gainsbourg (who plays “She”) overcome the tragedy that opens the film, she is torturing him in one way or another; which, toward the end involves actual brutal torture.
As I said, the film kicks off with a tragedy. In fact, if you’re a parent, especially a mother — do not watch this film. After said tragedy, the remaining hour and a half is “She” falling further into a pit of depression and “He” trying to save her. All to no avail. Not only does “She” become increasingly depressed, we watch her lose her mind and become flat-out psychotic. It isn’t easy to watch.
Each of “She’s” subsequent emotional and physically violent outbursts is worse and more dangerous than the one before it. They start small, but the pressure mounts quickly like a vice grip tightening, and they get quite bloody. All of this leads to a somewhat of a surprising end.
Defoe is great, Gainsbourg creeped the hell out of me. Lars von Trier wrote and directed very well so I’d have to shake his hand for that — can’t be easy.