Print Edition - 2018-05-17  |  Life & Style

Von Trier targets #MeToo in shocking serial killer film

- AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, CANNES

May 17, 2018-Controversial director Lars von Trier kicked up a storm of anger at the Cannes film festival Tuesday with a brutal serial killer film which many see as giving the finger to the #MeToo movement.

The Danish provocateur, who was banned from Cannes for seven years for saying he understood Hitler, has a frustrated architect played by Matt Dillon kill a string of women and children in scenes of such “abhorrent cruelty” that many critics walked out. “Vile movie. Should not have been made. Actors (also) culpable,” said American entertainment reporter Roger Friedman, while another who left tweeted, “Gross. Pretentious. Vomitive. Torturous. Pathetic.”

As the killer Jack horribly mutilates one girlfriend, who has suffered a night of controlling behaviour, he says: “Why is it always the man’s fault... If you are born male you are born to be guilty. Think of the injustice of that.”

He later makes a wallet from her severed breasts. But the scene that sparked most revulsion was one in which Jack indulges in amateur taxidermy on one of the children he has killed with their mother after inviting them on a picnic.

Before dispatching them, he had them all wear Donald Trump-style red baseball hats. The Hollywood Reporter slammed the film as “an autoerotic ego massage... often as inane as it is unsettling.”

And there was no doubt that it was “a direct FU to the current climate of reckoning over gender bias and sexual misconduct.”

Von Trier also seemed to taunt the festival over his ban with images of Hitler and other mass-murdering dictators as the killer rhapsodises about icons of evil and the sound of German World World II Stuka dive-bombers. Von Trier, who is notorious for putting his actors through hell, has had to deny accusations he sexually harassed singer Bjork on the set of his 2000 film, Dancer in the Dark.

Danish authorities investigating the production company he founded said female staff had been bullied, humiliated and sexually harassed.

His longtime producer Peter Aalbaek Jensen said last week he would stop spanking his staff or asking them to strip. Cannes has been criticised by feminist activists for allowing Von Trier back, particularly in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. The bad boy of arthouse cinema delights in butchering sacred cows and pushing beyond the limits of taste.

First reviews of The House That Jack Built were mostly hostile, with The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw writing that it was “an ordeal of gruesomeness and tiresomeness that was every bit as exasperating as I had feared.” However he admitted to being impressed by its “spectacular horror finale”.

The film received a traditional standing ovation at its gala premiere, which prompted one person to say, “They’ll clap for anything,” according to Variety correspondent, Ramin Setoodeh?.

Published: 17-05-2018 07:33

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