After the accidental death of their son, a couple withdraws to the seclusion of an isolated cabin in the woods. The woman experiences feelings of guilt for the child’s accident; her husband, a psychotherapist, uses discussion and exercises in an attempt to ameliorate her pathological fear. But instead of alleviating her grief and pain, it drives her to even greater despair. Her manic impulses are initially self-destructive, but eventually she turns violently on her therapist … In Lars von Trier’s dark psychological horror film, a married couple literally tears each other apart. Willem Dafoe gives an intense portrayal of a loving husband who has difficulty getting his emotions under control with the rationality he needs to provide therapy for his wife. His striking face reflects his concern for his obsessed wife just as credibly as his horror when she turns into a raging fury. Equally brilliant is Dafoe’s mastery of the physical demands of the role, a man who ultimately undergoes terrible torment.
Source: 68. Internationale Filmfestspiele Berlin (Catalogue)
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