- Summary -
Director : Lars von Trier
Year Of Release : 2013
Principal Cast : Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Mia Goth, Sophie Kennedy, Connie Nielsen.
Approx Running Time : 117 Minutes
Synopsis: A woman’s erotic journey from birth to old age is recounted to a man in his apartment, after finding the woman beaten in an alleyway.
What we think : Lars von Trier’s sex-odyssey redefines artistry on film, a masterclass in style, theme and story – it’s confronting in its depiction of sexuality, and no doubt will have many conservative buckaws running for the censorship lawbook, but as a work of magnificently filmed, wonderfully depicted fiction, I’m in little doubt that Volume 1 of Nymphomaniac is a triumph.
Editor’s Note – This review is based off the original theatrical cut of Nymphomaniac Volume 1.
Every man’s fantasy?
Lars von Trier is, if nothing else, a hugely divisive director. Divisive not only for his films, as for his actions away from the camera – famously at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival, declaring understanding of Hitler, being a Nazi, and other somewhat controversial comments, caused a significant uproar at the time (he was there to promote his film Melancholia, starring Kirsten Dunst, who looked positively dumbfounded whilst sitting next to him as he made these remarks) – yet for all his dogmatic style and eccentricity, his films often speak for themselves. Nymphomaniac, a film project which has been divided into two “volumes”, much like Tarantino’s Kill Bill, is loosely considered the conclusion to von Trier’s “Depression” Trilogy, following Antichrist and Melancholia, both of which had dealt with grief and depression (an affliction from which the director also suffers); its very title might give one pause as to what you might see when watching it, and if Antichrist is anything to go by, von Trier isn’t afraid of showing some rather graphic and confronting imagery to make his artistic point. Nymphomaniac does feature some rather graphic depictions of sexual behavior, throughout its two-volume, four-plus hour runtime, and I guess this will make people swerve away from it regardless of intent or artistic merit, so there’s no changing some people’s minds. For the rest of us, those with a more liberal bent, who does von Trier’s latest work of fiction stack up to his previous output – is it as controversial as ever, is it simply a work of artistic porn, or does it have merit and value regardless of sexual content?