Wow. What a movie. I’ve never seen a Lars von Trier film before and I’m not sure if this was the best or worst movie to start with. Nymphomaniac has pretty much a story in a story, where a woman tells a man who found her beaten and bloody in the streets about her life story, mostly involving sex. The stories range from innocent self exploration all the way too her engaging in sexual acts with different men in a short period of time. She has other tales to tell, involving her loving father and shrewish mother, but the majority of the film follows sex.
The cast in the film is pretty phenomenal, with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin and Stellan Skarsgard having the strongest roles. The biggest surprise, performance wise was Christian Slater’s role as the lead character’s father. I’ve only ever been impressed by Slater in True Romance, but he offered up an amazing role that was complex. Gainsbourg and Martin play the same character, Joe, and spend most of the film in differing stages of undress. Their performances were both great, but Martin probably shined a little brighter since most of the stories involved Joe at Martin’s age. Shia LaBeouf was good, he was played a character with quite a bit of depth, but was mostly a jerk the whole way through. Skarsgard was also phenomenal and his defense of Gainsborg’s actions through the course of the film is at times comical. Despite his age, he seems to act with a boyish wonder to his eyes, it’s truly captivating.
The subject matter should probably be discussed, yes, there is a lot of nudity in this film, especially the uncut version. There are graphic shots of genitals, breasts, most sex acts and a whole lot of moaning. The film is not a porno, it’s nudity is closely tied with the story and it’s not shown as some sort of gratification. The subject matter is far too intense, despite its occasionally casual and comedic tone. It deals with death, pain and an absence of love. This being the director’s cut, it is filled with potentially more sex scenes, more nudity and more story. I’m not quite sure since I haven’t seen the theatrical cut yet. It’s quite a long watch, but at the end of the film I felt like it was worth it.
Overall, I can’t recommend this to everyone, but it was a great enough watch in my opinion.