Oh for heaven’s sake Lars you’re a miserable bastard. Lars Von Trier supposedly suffers from severe depression I’ve always thought it was a partly his public persona and when you hear his casts talk about his depression it’s comical. Nymphomaniac is the final part of his “depression trilogy” which was preceded by Antichrist and Melancholia but it’s the worst of the 3. Nymphomaniac originally came out in a 4 hour version in cinemas (split into two films) after Lars’ decided to have somebody else edit it but he always planned to release his 5 and a half hour version and it’s now out.
Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as the woman Joe who is found beaten in the street who is rescued by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) who tells him her life story which naturally revolves around a lot of sex. The rest of the film is flashbacks telling the sexual odyssey she has been on that leads to her lying in an inch of her life in the street. Lars since The Idiots have been pushing the boundaries of what you can show sexually on-screen and this is the logical conclusion to that. He used the actors pretending to have sex and then shot porn actors actually having sex and superimposed their genitals on the professional actors. However its seems rather tame for the most part, I found Antichrist much more shocking for example.
The performances are a real mixed bag, Charlotte Gainsbourg has always been a fearless performer, after all she starred in a film with her dad Serge about an incestuous relationship when she was still a teenager and as it should her performance carries the film. Stacy Martin gives an equally fearless performance as the young Joe. Skarsgård is one of the actors Von Trier always goes back to and it’s no wonder, he is always a reliable capable performer. The two big sore thumbs in the cast are Shia Labeouf and Christian Slater who try their best but simply can’t do convincing British accents to save their lives. Jamie Bell brings some menace to his character of K, Willem Dafoe, Uma Thurman and Von Trier regular Udo Kier all have memorable cameos.
Von Trier is trying to make this to be some serious masterpiece on human sexuality and in that sense it fails. It’s a well made drama that seems to less transgressive then its thinks itself to be. The sex scenes are the weakest point of the film because it gets to a point they are just boring. The most disturbing scenes are with the paedophile played by Jean-Marc Barr and the much talked about self abortion that is only in the director’s cut which makes it the better cut.
The first part is hilarious for most of its running time and it’s hard to take seriously with lines like “Let’s call it’s Pandora’s box, no cunt is better” or “Country of the big black cocks”. Lars Von Trier’s later work is first and foremost the work of a trickster so to take it so seriously is misguided. The “fuck me now clothes” scene with Steppenwolf’s Born to Be Wild playing is hard not to laugh at and the use of Talking Heads’ Burning Down the House in part 2 is inspired. Nymphomaniac is the work of a director at the end of a cycle of films and let’s hope he can reinvent himself again and not end up becoming boring.
The 2-Discs includes the bonus features on the theatrical cut, interviews with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin, Stellan Skarsgård and a Q&A. The difference between cuts is around 90 minutes so it’s sizeable difference and in my opinion, the director’s cut is the better paced of the two and has the aforementioned self abortion scene.
Genre: Drama | Distributor: Artificial Eye | BD Release Date: 11th May 2015(UK) | Rating: 18 | Director: Lars Von Trier | Cast:Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell | Buy: [Blu-ray]