Big Screen :: Nymphomaniac

March 31st 2014


It’s hard for me to recommend going to watch a hardcore, R-rated, four-hour-long Lars Von Trier porno when the first thing you will see when you watch it is a title card saying that you are about to see a heavily edited and censored version of the director’s original vision, and that it has been put together with his permission, but not involvement. For audiences brave and/or stupid enough to voluntarily sit down in front of a four hour porno (myself included), it’s a bit of a kick in the guts to be told you aren’t even being told that you aren’t even seeing the proper film.

The story is that Lars decided four hours was not long enough to tell his epic story of the sexcapades of a Nymphomanic from birth to age 50. He needed two movies and five and a half hours to do it. The ‘cut’ screening that’s showing here is the two movies edited together with most of the close-ups and really messy bits cut out. And given this is Lars Von Trier, it’s safe to assume there was a lot of that. But if you’re solely in the market for a bit of art-house perving, don’t worry: there is still plenty of humping.

(By the way, this was apparently filmed using cutting-edge technology, allowing Von Trier to merge the top half of his actors with the bottom half of porn stars who do all the actual screwing. Who would have though that all those pioneers of cinema would be paving the way for us to see Shia LaBeouf have sex with someone else’s penis?! Ladies and gentlemen, this truly is the magic of cinema.)



I should probably talk about the actual film a little bit. The framing device is Charlotte Gainsbourg recounting her sexual adventures to an asexual Stellan Skarsgard. The movie gets some laughs here, when he compares getting the kid from Billy Elliot to violently beat, whip and dominate the lead character to things like… fly fishing. She tells stories of sadomasichism, sex competitions, three-ways and lesbianism. Some are funny. A lot are boring or a bit silly. For example, there is a whole thing about Fibonacci numbers and sex with Shia La Boeuf that I didn’t understand at all.

Stacy Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg do heroic work as the younger and older versions of the titular Nymphomaniac, despite not looking at all alike, or seeming to even attempt to play the same character. Thats not their fault though, the character completely morphs from story to story. She is just a vessel for Von Trier to indulge in some new attempt at provocation.

You probably realise I didn’t enjoy this a great deal. It has its moments; it is provocative and actually pretty funny at times but it’s way to indulgent and kinda dopey. The way I see it, if you are going to watch a four hour porno it better be good. Nymphomaniac is interesting, but not really good.

Recommended only for Lars Von Trier maniacs and people up for a challenge.

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