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Lars Von Trier The House That Jack Built

Disc Reviews

Lars and the Unreal Girls: The Danish Provocateur Pushes Buttons in Cruel, Grotesque “The House That Jack Built” | Blu-ray Review

Lars and the Unreal Girls: The Danish Provocateur Pushes Buttons in Cruel, Grotesque “The House That Jack Built” | Blu-ray Review

The most controversial entry in the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, Lars Von Trier’s The House That Jack Built finally makes its way to Blu-ray (though distributor IFC’s relationship with the Criterion Collection bodes well for something a bit more deserving of this maligned title). Released mid-December 2018 into theaters, the latest provocative statement from the Danish auteur scored over two-million at the worldwide box office and a host of angry detractors upset at Von Trier’s treatment of women and children murdered by a sociopathic serial killer. So, nothing new as regards Von Trier.

From our review at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival:

“Women and children never fare well in a Lars Von Trier film, so no one should be surprised at the level of degradation a handful of peripheral victims experience as the disposable detritus in Jack’s tapestry of mayhem. But without the sympathetic femme center we’re usually accustomed to, The House That Jack Built presents as a harsh, overtly grotesque and ceaselessly grim exercise even for Trier. But then what is the purpose of viewing a sociopath in his element other than to be repelled, a convenient way to confirm a baseline of humanity? This is a film which immediately courts the need for a deeper explanation as to its purpose and existence. After all, what is the point? One may as well pose the question to a serial killer, especially one whose banality frustratingly seems to prove Von Trier’s point. The answer may have something to do with how we let them—not just killers and madmen, but perhaps Von Trier, who has spent decades exorcizing his demons in films which have either been damned or embraced but nevertheless continually inspired conversation.”

Disc Review:

IFC presents The House That Jack Built in 2.40:1 as a two-disc set with both the theatrical cut and the director’s cut. An interview with director Lars Von Trier and the theatrical trailer are the sole extra features.

Film Rating: ★★★★/☆☆☆☆☆
Disc Rating: ★★★/☆☆☆☆☆

Los Angeles based Nicholas Bell is IONCINEMA.com's Chief Film Critic and covers film festivals such as Sundance, Berlin, Cannes and TIFF. He is part of the critic groups on Rotten Tomatoes, The Los Angeles Film Critics Association (LAFCA), FIPRESCI, the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS) and GALECA. His top 3 for 2023: The Beast (Bonello) Poor Things (Lanthimos), Master Gardener (Schrader). He was a jury member at the 2019 Cleveland International Film Festival.

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