When art films attack: why The Painted Bird’s try-hard horrors fail to land | Ryan Gilbey

From Haneke to Von Trier, the arthouse provocateur has a long, grim history.

But there’s a thin line between trauma and tediumLooking back, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly when it was during The Painted Bird that I got the giggles.

Most likely it happened somewhere between the child being buried up to his neck to be pecked at by crows, and the cats licking a pair of eyeballs freshly gouged from a man’s head with a spoon.

Once a paedophile had met his death at the bottom of a rat-filled well and a goat had been decapitated by a boy who had discovered it was sleeping with his lover, the film had become an arthouse equivalent of the old Four Yorkshiremen sketch with its steeply competing hardships: “Tossed in t’well wi’ rats? We used to dream o’ being tossed in t’well wi’ rats …”Like

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