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Director:  Lars von Trier
Year Released:  2009
Rating:  2.5

Troublesome study of grief, pain and despair by the envelope-shoving von Trier, whose ideas are lofty and impassioned but his implementation, in this case, is a bit wanting. Husband and wife (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg, not given names), following the accidental death of their son, go to a cabin in the woods to have a primal therapy session: he, an actual therapist, decides he's the one most suited to 'cure' her, but she cannot get over the anxiety and depression, growing more despondent, inconsolable and psychotic. I refuse to consider it a low-water mark for the director (that would have been Manderlay) because anything that takes this kind of chance still shows a filmmaker trying new things with the medium, but the 'allegorical' aspects ("He," "She," "Eden") are weak, and the extremity of the third act (Gainsbourg concluding that women are evil and cannot control their own bodies and von Trier seeing men as witless enablers) doesn't feel necessarily 'earned,' although the association between guilt over pleasure and the willing destruction of the central pleasure organ(s) is made quite clear by the director. It's a failure, but a fascinating one and defendable - those accusing it of misogyny are underestimating von Trier's intelligence and moxie.

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