“It is probably redundant at this point to forewarn the faint hearted that this might be one to avoid.”
Nymphomaniac Vol. I & II Review
By Matt Allen
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Willem Dafoe, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Stellan Skarsgård, Uma Thurman
Director(s): Lars von Trier
Screenwriter(s): Lars von Trier
Running Time: 122 mins & 123 mins
If you are one of the many people (like us) that didn’t get a chance to catch Lars von Trier’s sex epic at the cinemas during its limited release then fear not. Following the recent release on DVD, here at Movie Maniacs we have taken a load to the face so you don’t have to. With little more to go on than a provocative poster campaign that froze in time the vinegar strokes (for all those not yet watching the brilliant The League that translates as ‘cum face’) of the eclectic cast and a trailer that blasted German metal band Rammstein against images of an increasingly explicit nature, it could be safe to assume that the Antichrist director’s latest is nothing short of controversial. No surprises there then…
When an asexual fly-fishing enthusiast (Skarsgård) finds self-confessed piece of shit, Joe (Gainsbourg) in a pool of her own blood he invites her in for a bit of cake and is treated to a blow by blow account of her sordid life as sex addict.
It is probably redundant at this point to forewarn the faint hearted that this might be one to avoid. Joe’s story – a saga that spans from her first sexual experience as a child; through her predatory teens; lingers on her destructive relationship with a monumental twat (LaBeouf) supplemented by her secret masochistic visits to a professional sadist (Bell); and finally seeing her turn her talents to debt collection before being left for dead in an alleyway – is peppered with vignettes on the nature of Joe’s compulsion and the extents to which she will go to sate it.
Despite the bleak subject matter, Nymphomaniac is not without its sense of humour which rears its head between – and often during – the darker moments in the tale (of which there are many) which suggests von Trier took a slightly more playful stance than in previous films such as Antichrist and certainly Melancholia. This is also evident in a heavy-handed call back to the opening of Antichrist which is revealed as a feint at the last minute. You can almost hear him chuckling to himself as you breathe a sigh of relief.
Don’t be fooled; those expecting a salaciously erotic experience will be sorely disappointed. This is a warts and all exploration of sexuality that goes out of its way to repulse and disgust. It is the confession of a woman who’s need for sexual satisfaction extends beyond her concern for her health and even her infant son. When that sensation is taken away from her, she will go to extreme lengths to get it back and there is nothing attrcative about it.
A gruelling study of sex addiction as well as perversion in its many forms. It could have been acceptable to release this as one feature at 4 hours long but honestly we were glad for the break as the exhausting deluge of increasingly bleak sexual encounters is as insatiable as the titular nympho. Have a cigarette ready.