Nymphomaniac: Vol. I


Action / Drama

IMDb Rating 7 10 98917


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Shia LaBeouf as Jerôme
Stellan Skarsgård as Seligman
Uma Thurman as Mrs. H
Christian Slater as Joe's Father

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by Mark Beckmann 1 / 10

Aweful, Disgusting, Obnoxious

Simply tedious, full of extraordinarily disgusting scenes. Such an ultra-long so-called movie about nonsense, without a particular target or message. Might be useful for pervert. Total waste of time; happy that haven't paid on that.

Reviewed by Nigel P 9 / 10

Spoilers for parts 1 and 2.

'Nymphomaniac' is a huge project written and directed by Lars von Trier. Trier has proven a controversial figure over the years, with his filmic output attracting similar contention and many awards (Shia LaBeouf, who stars as Jerome, has said about von Trier that he is 'dangerous. He scares me. And I'm only going to work now when I'm terrified.'). Trier suffers from depression, and appears to inject some of his personality into the characters. This is my first experience of his work, and I absolutely love it.

A beautifully directed opening, simply featuring snow falling on an industrial landscape, water dripping from roofing, slowly reveals the beaten and broken figure of a young woman Joe. She is found by lonesome scholar, bachelor Seligman, whose quiet ways mask his erudite intelligence. When Joe stirs, she too, is very well spoken, very refined. After she refuses medical treatment, he takes her to his spacious but dilapidated home. Therein, with the falling snow outside acting as a constant backdrop, she tells him about herself. She is a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, and despises herself for it. Using his own interests as a yardstick, Seligman interprets her self-loathing, often into something more positive. Joe's stories are divided into various chapters, sometimes resulting in her destroying lives and relationships, sometimes not. Seligman's precise and dispassionate synopsis is because he is a virgin and remains sexually unmoved by Joe's forthright, graphic accounts.

Possibly the most disturbing chapter is 6. "The Eastern and the Western Church (The Silent Duck)", in which Joe visits 'K' (Jamie Bell) to assuage her never-ending sexual dependency. The violence inflicted upon her willing person is punishing and sadistic - and it comes at a heavy price: the loss of Joel and son Marcel. Here we are actually seeing the regular repercussions and personal consequences of her condition and it is horrific.

'Nymphomaniac' is fascinating throughout. The playing is exemplary, the direction beautifully contrasting the ramshackle calm of Seligman's existence, and the unstoppable, often self-destructive calamity of Joe's addiction to sex. Sometimes the scenes are extremely graphic for a brief time, but such is the surrounding story and reasons for her carnal addiction, they convey the nature of her being rather than shock. There is a poetic sense of symmetry to certain events, words and statistics that ensures many things come full circle. And ultimately, that the flaws of the characters dovetail each other in a very satisfying manner.

The cast list contains Charlotte Gainsburg and Stacey Martin as Joe at different ages, Stellan Skarsgård as Seligman, and features Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, William Defoe and Udo Kier amongst many other very talented, naturalistic actors. The excellent Mia Goth plays 'P' (Goth is starring in a forthcoming remake of 'Suspiria' in 2018). My only complaint would be that the actors playing young versions of the characters look unlike the older versions - that is, if everything else wasn't so perfect. And perfect isn't a word I have cause to use very often.

'Nymphomaniac' was released in two parts in the UK, but has a total running time of either 241 minutes or 325 minutes, depending on whether you see the uncut version or not. It has deservedly won multiple awards, including three for Trier himself. Devoting the time to watch is an undertaking, but is worth it, because your eyes will never dare to leave the screen.

Reviewed by Filipe Neto 3 / 10

Very little art in a movie that would be boring if it didn't have so much sex.

Contrary, perhaps, to the majority of the public, I decided to see this film because of the name of its director, Lars von Trier. If I liked "Antichrist", I don't know yet very well what to think about this film. The script is the story of a woman who calls herself a nymphomaniac, but whose pursuit of pleasure seems to have taken her too far, to the point that she also wants to believe that she's a lousy human being. When she is found fainted after a beating, she decides to tell her life to the nice man who helped her. From there, the film unfolds into two intercommunicating ways: the dissolute life of this girl, Joe, and the exchange of comments between her and the good Samaritan, Seligman, who insists on not seeing her alleged perversity.

The film is absolutely loaded with explicit sex, with genitals close ups and penetration scenes. Von Trier remains faithful to the rule of showing everything that is spoken. So this movie requires you to be, at least, able not to be scandalized by that. On the other hand, sex scenes are so cruel and insensitive that you probably will not take any pleasure in watching it. This is not a porn movie made for us to get excited, but the idea is to get the opposite effect: like Joe, we don't feel anything. Emotionally violent, the film raises constant moral and ethical issues regarding religion, psychology, relationships, etc.

Charlotte Gainsbourg has done well enough in this film, although its not the best performance of her career, and the same can be said about Stellan Skarsgård. Their performances seemed too warm and very monotone, and their dialogues range from obscenity to the monotony of the most sterile philosophical discussions. In contrast, Joe and Seligman could not be on more opposing poles: She's a girl who lives to feed her sexual addiction, in a way that we would find dirty and reprehensible; Seligman is absolutely pure and innocent, inasmuch as he does nothing wrong, he is a virgin and lives in a world of books, theories and classical music. Uma Thurman seems to be in the middle. She is the most violent and intense actress in the film, in that she plays the betrayed woman, a person just like any of us, who saw her life being destroyed by a lolita. And so, the emotive and explosive way as she behaves comes closer to us than any other character.

I liked the actors and the way they worked, I think it suits the movie and the characters they gave them. I liked the way the theme was presented, with the sinner making a confession in a repentant way to a man who seems to be above mortals. But the movie is damaged by the absence of art, by the monotony of the dialogues, by the perversion of sex and the omnipresence of pointless sex scenes all over.

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