Matthew Dancona

A true masterpiece

A true masterpiece
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I am going to break from my holiday just to put on record that last night I saw one of the first true masterpieces of the century at the Cannes Film Festival.

Lars Von Trier's Antichrist is both unwatchably horrible and utterly compelling. I shan't reveal too much of the plot except to say that it explores the descent into Hadean co-dependence of a couple (Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsbourg) after an unbearable trauma.

In search of emotional recovery, they head off to a forest, spectacularly misnamed as 'Eden'. 'Nature is Satan's church,' she tells her husband in one of many moments of witch-like incantation that scorn his professional, patriarchal ultra-rationalism as a psycho-therapist. And - take it from me - she isn't kidding.

The film, rich in Catholic imagery, Dogme technique and grotesqueries not seen since the era of video nasties is a carnival of extremes: morality, mortality, Freudianism, faith, witchcraft, misogyny, parental failure - it is all in there.

This movie has already caused a huge fuss in Cannes: it was booed, heckled and cheered in equal measure last night and its edginess has spilt over into frenzied ill temper in the queues.  The audience even took umbrage at the fact that it is dedicated to Andrei Tarkovsky.

When it comes to Britain, the furore will follow - presenting the British Board of Classification with some big decisions about whether to cut some of the bloodier scenes, which are undoubtedly stomach-churning. Expect a row of the sort we haven't really seen since Cronenberg's Crash.

But the nausea is a small part of a chilling, aesthetically sublime experience that no cinephile should miss. Trust me: you'll never hear the music of Handel or look at a pair of scissors in the same way. The work of a dark genius in his twisted prime.