The Competition on the Croisette hosted on May 15 En Guerre (At War – France) by Stéphane Brizé and Under The Siver Lake (USA) by David Robert Mitchell. Yesterday, Lars Von Trier signed his return to the Festival de Cannes with The House That Jack Built (out of competition), a thriller-horror film on the edge of the unbearable.
In At War, the French Stéphane Brizé recounts the feeling of humiliation and despair of dismissed employees as the company makes record profits. In Under The Siver Lake, the American filmmaker David Robert Mitchell tells the surreal quest of a man in Los Angeles to discover the secret of the disappearance of a beautiful swimmer. Yesterday, Lars Von Trier caused a sensation on the Croisette with his new thriller/horror film The House That Jack Built, the story of serial killer, a predator devoid of human feelings, both pitiless and sadistic, aesthete and intellectual.
Diving in horror
The house that Jack, fierce serial killer, is building, is the house of horrors where all kinds of victims pile up: women, of course, designated victims, but also children and men. Mr. Sophistication, as Jack (Matt Dillon) calls him, boasts of killing more than sixty victims in twelve years, to the rhythm of his impulses, which are born of a growing pain when the ecstasy after the murder fades away.
Jack recounts how he delves in horror into five murders – called incidents and later, works of art – to a mysterious Verge (Bruno Ganz), who, as a voiceover, regularly comments on or deplores the murders. Finally, Jack meets Verge in a surreal epilogue, while finally the police come to arrest him.
Macabre details and Grand Guignol
Lars Von Trier sets his plot in the United States in the 70s, in Washington State. Provoked by a woman (Uma Thurman) who insists that he helps her with her flat tire and keeps reffering to serial killers, Jack knocks out the imprudent with a jack. Then, an international cast fall under his knives, stranglings, balls, etc.: Siobhan Fallon Hogan, Sofie Gråbøl, Riley Keough, after the psychopath played with his prey with absolute sadism. The spectators aren’t spared any spooky details of the murders: bloodshed, agony, breasts cutting, necrophile stagings with corpses , all worthy of the Grand Guignol, often underlined with a touch of sneering humor.
The tiger and the lamb
Throughout this path of terror, Jack delivers his grotesque and aesthetic thoughts to this unknown Verge in conversations where he justifies his “works of art” by the need that the tiger, ultimate predator symbolizing savagery, devours the lamb of innocence, a reflection of an evil and soulless world. The brilliant provocateur Lars Von Trier is however lost in the part about “icons” of the history of Europe, the Third Reich and concentration camps, illustrated by extracts of B&W films. He finally returns to Jack’s obsession – who, by the way, is an engineer and architect: building his house on the edge of a lake. As his house in cinderblock, then wood, does not satisfy him, he will finally realize that he has in its cold room some abundant material.
But in the midst of this excess of morbid violence, was it useful to cut a duckling’s leg?
It is clear that Lars Von Trier, virtuoso of a camera that is exploring the darkest side of the human soul in such a controversial work, could only be presented Out of Competition. It’s a pity for the handsome Matt Dillon who would have been a great contender for the Best Actor Award.
The House That Jack Built by Lars Von Trier
2h35 – Color
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