Lars von Trier is one of those directors that bring some intriguing thought provoking films that effect audiences on numerous levels. His latest film, Nymphomaniac met with controversy from the moment it was announced with the report of them using actual intercourse in the film. Most thought this film would never see the light of day here in the US at least, but it has and features an impressive cast including Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Connie Nielsen, Willem Defoe, Jamie Bell, and Stacy Martin which is a bit of a shock for the direction of the film, but does it offer more than just mainstream porn?
Nymphomaniac follows a man who finds a wounded woman in an alley and brings her home. She tells him that she is nymphomaniac and her life story and sexual experiences with hundreds of men involving loss of sexual sensation in intercourse and sadomasochism since she was a young teenager while he tells her about his hobbies, such as fly fishing, reading about Fibonacci numbers or listening to organ music and his virginity in hopes to help her understand her actions throughout life, but is he just there to be her friend or more? With a title like Nymphomaniac you already know that this film is likely to be something unlike you’ve ever seen. The reports of the controversy were just the beginning as it turned out that the film ran almost 4 hours prompting it to be releases in two volumes that have been collected together in this Blu-ray release. It’s hard to really say if this film is bad or just so pretentious that it serves no point. The impressive cast all bring something to the table but it’s not all good. Most of them are stiff or just walking through the motions almost as if they are uncomfortable filming it which makes some sense in some scenes. Despite his issues Shia LaBeouf is the only member of the cast all in and really delivers a great performance. His character experiences just as much suffering as the others, but he is the only one you really buy into.
The film is really just a long string of stories that could have played out more like a TV a series than a movie, but will less emotional attraction. The ideas of each of the stories are interesting and at times disturbing, but the all over the place construction of the film makes them uninteresting for most of the film. The story bounces in all different directions with few being all that believable and even uses Skarsgard’s character as the voice questioning but still keeps it moving in the same direction. There are so many moments that just didn’t need to be here it feels like a waste of times. Either of these films playing by themselves are almost unwatchable, but when they are considered and watch as one film actually work on some levels. Despite numerous detours through aspects of her life that offer nothing to move the straight story forward, the actual main story involving LaBeouf and Stacy Martin works. Had Trier just focused on this story and interjected some of the random info needed to keep it moving this would have been such a thought provoking original great film, but instead just gets lost in its own nonsense.
There is no denying that this film is something original and will affect everyone differently, especially in regards to the sex sequences. There are plenty of them which comes as no surprise due to the title and some that are pretty graphic rivaling some hardcore porn sequences which could be the aspect that loses or brings a lot of viewers in for this experience. On the flip side there are numerous really disturbing moments that will likely make you cringe or turn it off and while they aren’t all that necessary come as no surprise for a Trier film. Love it or hate it, this film will evoke some kind of response which is what a real film should do, so if you decide to take this bizarrely sexually graphic journey try to watch the entire film as a whole before passing judgment as there are some twists and turns that could affect your final opinion.