Nymphomaniac shows that Lars Von Trier doesn’t do things by halves, as his latest opus makes it to Blu-ray and DVD in a 2-part story totalling a shade over four hours.
Vol.I begins with Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) being found in an alley by an innocent, old man called Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), since she’s been beaten up and left for dead. He takes her back to his place and, as she rests up, she tells him about her life and her tales of being a nymphomaniac. Telling her tales in flashback, she warns him that it’ll be a long story, although having checked the running times on IMDB, this is something I already knew.
Over the two films, we see Christian Slater playing Joe’s father during her younger incarnation (played by Stacy Martin); she tells of how she and her friends climbed the ropes at school and, while up there, they got the ‘sensation’; she encounters the demanding Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf), originally when she’s very young, as she wants him to take her virginity; as well as her time when she had sex with random men on a train.
At some point, the film has to change the flashback scenes between the young Joe and the current Joe. There’s about 20 years difference in their age, but no attempt is made to make them meet in the middle – Martin is simply replaced by Gainsbourg from the second flashback onwards in Vol.II.
Lars explores the minituae of life, making you think he had a zillion different ideas which he threw in for the sake of it, but they tie in with a purpose, such as Seligman’s fascination with fishing and makes links with her story.
As to whether the actors actually had sex… no, is the answer. Adult actors were CGI’d into the scenes to make it look like the actual actors were the ones who were having it away.
In addition, every man Joe meets has a single letter for a name, eg. K is into encounters involving violence.
And in Vol.II you can learn a restaurant trick involving spoons…
The story is engaging, but Stellan mumbles through his lines, making the subtitles essential. And, oddly, the subtitles are ALL IN CAPITALS. Why? Or is this a further example of Lars Von Trier being a bit up himself?
Nymphomaniac is an intriguing watch, and is never boring. At first you feel sorry for her, for the fact she’s been left for dead, but as the film goes on and you see the lives she’s destroyed in her quest for lust, any sympathies fly out the window.
Go to page 2 for a look at the presentation and the extras.
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.