maggie’s review published on Letterboxd :
art is expansive. art is defined as a diverse range of human activities in creating visual, auditory or performing artifacts, expressing the author's imaginative, conceptual idea, or technical skill, intended to be appreciated for their beauty or emotional power.
art can truly be anything. paintings, music, architecture. art can also be a justification for just about anything: including murder.
there is a central conflict in the house that jack built. a self-critique, maybe a shaming of this justification. how impulsivity is channeled into art, what that art amounts to in a lifetime. nothing is black and white. does this director relate to this character, or is he criticizing him? is he a misogynist, or is he using this character’s misogyny to represent that his art is flawed?
every film by lars von trier is analyzed inextricably with him in mind. his penchant for violence, and his desire to use it so heavily in his art confuses and angers. is he making this art for himself, for the world, or for both? and for what purpose could this level of sadism on display serve?
it’s easy to say his art is self-satisfactory, as is jack’s. something he does for pleasure that he excuses for art, that he justifies by saying it is art: but the lines are blurred with the house that jack built. von trier is an artist, because he makes what he calls art. there is no doubt that he is an artist, but whether or not that art is valuable or exploitative is in the eye of the beholder. but no matter what, for better or worse, his work will live on in both esteem and infamy.
the house that jack built poses every question posed here without a real answer. but at least he asks.