No, I’m not starting another religious fight. InfiniteThought, true to her name, has a brilliant (in the American, not English sense of the word… Yanks don’t call nice room designs or good meals or timely cups of coffee “brilliant”), inspired, and raw review of Lars von Trier’s latest. Here’s a taste:
If depression is the feeling that somehow everything is askew, even with itself, that things are out of joint, and perhaps have always been so, then one’s own nature quickly becomes an internal faultline by which to measure this sense of abyssal disconnection. If nature is indeed ‘Satan’s church’ as Gainsbourg’s character (‘She’) claims at one point, then between the rational man (Dafoe’s distant, condescending therapist) and nature red in tooth and claw (the talking autophagic fox, the deer unconcerned that it has a stillborn fawn dangling from its womb, the runt egret covered with ants and eaten by its mother, the crow that Dafoe has to kill interminably whilst hiding in a burrow from his by-now completely deranged wife), lies woman, a confused and confusing mixture of the pathologically normal and the biologically disconcerting. If you think this is itself a problematically misogynist claim, overcoded with the self-hatred we are supposed to internalise from women’s magazines and the false expectations of a hyper-sexualised culture, I would suggest that we begin instead with the very real problems in self-conception generated by these contradictions: otherwise compassionate men are traumatised by the graphic nature of childbirth, finding it hard to reconcile the comforting warmth of the vagina they used to know with the monstrous visceral apparatus it becomes, however sanitised the hospital surroundings might be. Or the ambiguity of menstruation in a modern world, trying to square the regular heavy flow of blood, welcome only as an indication that one is not pregnant, with the world of plastic bags, air fresheners and pre-cooked meat (if this makes absolutely no sense, it’s because it’s a form of nausea almost impossible to explain because so mundane and so disturbing at once). It’s not hard to feel disgusted with this nature whether it’s because, as Charlotte Roche (interestingly a dead-ringer for Gainsbourg) said in that interview I did with her a while back, this womanly, female nature is experienced in a bizarrely, almost entirely individualised way.
The rest is required reading so go to it.