Writer: Lars Von Trier
Cast: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin, Shia LeBeouf, Uma Thurman
A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.
Lars Von Trier wanted the film to be released as a single one initially, but due to the run time of four hours he decided to release it in two volumes like Tarantino did with Kill Bill. It is the final one in Lars Von Trier's 'Depression Trilogy' with Antichrist and Melancholia preceding it. Melancholia is my favorite film of his from what I have seen. Like in Tarantino films, Nymphomaniac is divided into different chapters with Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) narrating them to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) during their conversation. Lars Von Trier uses the character Seligman as the representative of the audience with him asking questions that come to our mind and also sometimes he represents the director himself by delivering some worldly wisdom and clarifying his anti-Zionist stance which he says is different from antisemitism (Recall the controversy Lars was in at Cannes which got him banned from there). I was also reminded of the Dogme 95 movement in which he was part of when Joe was talking about the club that she founded with several rules.
As she narrates her story from childhood we are left to judge whether she is in the truest sense a Nymphomaniac. For a film that is part of a Depression Trilogy, it is very funny or at least the volume one of it. It is like a philosophical inquest into sex, love and loveless sex. According to Joe, Love is just lust with jealousy and lies associated with it. It is good that even though Seligman is in back-foot most of the time during their conversation, he is not intellectually slouch. The way she connects her story to his tales about fishing, music etc may not sound natural but I think it is intentionally so. Some of the illustrations, especially the geometric ones kind of reminded me of Dogville. Out of all the chapters, I found Mrs. H to be the most hilarious and I didn't even recognize that she was played by Uma Thurman. Fucking hell.
They show some scenes from Vol 2 during the end credits and it seemed more serious and violent. Critical reception was also less flattering for the volume two but I will certainly catch up with it.