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The House That Jack Built, Cannes Film Festival

The House That Jack Built, Cannes Film Festival

The House That Jack Built serves as von Trier's big return to Cannes seven years after the filmmaker was banned from the annual event for making controversial statements about Adolf Hitler during the 2011 edition. Last night he came back, persona non grata status rescinded, with a film whose hero claims to sympathise with - well, have a guess.

Von Trier's new film, which stars Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman, follows the life of a serial killer in Washington over a period of a dozen years.

Oh no, says Jack, over documentary clips of actual massacres, including footage from a concentration camp of piles of Holocaust victims' bodies being bulldozed into pits. Jack is telling Verge about five "incidents" he's picked from his murdering career, which seems to run through the 1970s in an unspecified United States town. "Art is vaster than we could ever understand".

Some of those who walked out tweeted their disgust at The House That Jack Built.

- Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 14, 2018I've never seen anything like this at a film festival. On one occasion, he gets into a house by pretending, badly, to be a policeman; on another he brings new meaning to the phrase "family hunting trip"; on another he insults a young woman he calls "Simple" (Riley Keough, bringing some surprisingly touching humanity to an otherwise callous film).

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Trailers for the film were also released following its debut at Cannes.

As terrible and cruel as the film is, it's hard not to applaud the technical aspects and indeed the fact that Von Trier is a very good filmmaker. "More than 100 people have walked out of Lars von Trier's The House That Jack Built, which depicts the mutilation of women and children". Von Trier knows exactly which buttons to press, and not only does he press them, but absolutely hammers down on them hard, drawing out the torture to make us suffer for longer than needed. the running time playing out at a snail's pace - long it is, and you feel every one of those 155 gut-wrenching minutes.

The House That Jack Built will premiere at Cannes and awaits US distribution.

As an interesting sidenote, those who soldiered through The House That Jack Built reportedly gave it a standing ovation.

Along the way we experience Jack's descriptions of his personal condition, problems and thoughts through a recurring conversation with the unknown Verge - a grotesque mixture of sophistry mixed with an nearly childlike self-pity and psychopathic explanations.