Lar von Trier is no stranger to controversy. But even by his standards, his latest movie, “The House That Jack Built,” managed to alienate enough people to prompt more than 100 walkouts and simultaneous groans at its premiere at the Cannes Film Festival on Monday night.
“It’s disgusting,” muttered one woman, as she evacuated the Palais.
“The House That Jack Built” follows a serial killer (Matt Dillon) as he mutilates and strangles his victims, who are primarily women. The movie is extremely graphic. The scene that initially led to dozens of walkouts involved Dillon’s character shooting a hunting rifle at two small children, as he blows their heads off.
After that, a steady stream of patrons fled the theater, many of them looking furious or muttering under their breath.
By the time the end credits had stopped rolling, the balcony of the theater was half empty. Nevertheless, the movie still received a prolonged standing ovation for von Trier, who is a regarded as a cinematic visionary in France.
Two of the film’s co-stars, Riley Keough and Uma Thurman, didn’t attend this year’s festival, citing scheduling conflicts.
Normally, the temperature of a Cannes movie is determined at a morning press screening, where in the past a bad film has been met with boos. But this year, Cannes did away with that tradition, mandating that critics wait until the next day to see late-night movies. The final verdict on “The House That Jack Built” won’t be delivered until those reviews are published.