Lars Von Trier first came to my attention back in 1997 with his powerful and heartbreakingly realistic film “Breaking The Waves“, that made stars of both Stellan Skarsgård and Emily Watson, a film unlike any I had experienced before. From this first time watching his breakout film I have been a fan of his films because of their intelligent and challenging nature, knowing also that I am always guaranteed to experience something completely different with each of his films, every one feeling different from each other, but all are quintessentially a Lars Von Trier film.

Throughout his career he has been, and still is, one of the most controversial film-makers of the last 50 years. His genuinely unique films exploring the human condition as only he could, sometimes the very darkest aspects, in a very realistic, thoughtful, and intelligent way. Unsurprisingly more times than not the films divide opinions among critics and audiences alike.

As should be expected the controversy his films garner has continued with the first screening of his latest film “The House That Jack Built” at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, with apparently 100 people, including critics, walking out. It is nothing less than is to be expected from the maker of such controversial and divisive films as “The Idiots” (“Idioterne“, original title), “Antichrist” and “Nymphomaniac“.

The House That Jack Built” stars Matt Dillon and Uma Thurman, alongside a very impressive supporting cast consisting of Bruno Ganz, Riley Keough, Sofie Grabol, and Jeremy Davies. The story is that of a serial killer, following his life over 12 years. The film tells the killer’s story from his point of view, which is maybe the reason why many are finding the film uncomfortable to watch, singling out its graphic nature and the black comedy, seemingly missing the point that Lars Von Trier’s aim with the film seems to be to put the audience in the mind of Matt Dillon’s serial killer character, as he does with all the central characters in his films, however uncomfortable and disturbing it may be for the audience.

It seems from what has been written about the film so far that Lars Von Trier has created a very realistic depiction of a serial killer using elements of black comedy, humour after all can sometimes put across points far better. His films have always dealt with real world subjects and themes, never just being disturbing and graphic for exploitative shock value, they are after all character studies of complex human beings the like of which who do exist in reality.

From this trailer it seems that Matt Dillon may well have delivered a career best performance, with Uma Thurman matching his performance. Seeing the first glimpse of them in the trailer we can see that they so obviously relished playing their respective roles. Matt Dillon has never once in his entire career disappointed in his always committed performances. It seems to be no different with “The House That Jack Built“, with Uma Thurman seeming to be just as committed, appearing in her second Lars Von Trier film, the first being “Nymphomaniac“.  A perfect combination of film-maker and actors that makes “The House That Jack Built” among one of the most eagerly anticipated films of recent years.

One thing that is absolutely certain is that like all of Lars Von Trier previous films it will be unlike any film we have ever experienced before, and as to be expected it will continue to divide opinions for years to come.

Karl Franks