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Nymphomaniac Part One (2014)

Posted on the 30 April 2014 by Thomasjford


Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellen Skarsgaard, Stacy Martin, Shia Laboeuf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman

Directed by: Lars Von Trier

Synopsis: A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.

I’ll start by saying I am not a fan of Lars Von Trier. The only time I’ve attempted one of his films previously was Dogville, and I didn’t make it all the way through. Now I’ve seen Nymphomaniac Part’s One and Two I now know that I have no need to see any more Von Trier movies. So, every cloud.

I didn’t hate Part One. I just feel it was tremendously dull and quite lazy. As far as I can tell, Von Trier’s MO is just to shock. I say that because the famed sex scenes in this film don’t seem to have a point. The only was Von Trier could incorporate them (he was obviously desperate to do so) was by framing them with some naff philosophical meanderings spoken from the ‘nymphomaniac’ in question, to a stranger who has taken her in after she is beaten outside his house. Now, to me, that is just lazy. Couldn’t old Lars have come up with a proper story that befits his infamous sex scenes, other than just a woman recounting her life? So, what we get, instead of a gripping story that happens to include graphic sex, is a weak excuse to ram as much sex into the film as possible, for no real reason.

Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Joe, the nymphomaniac of the piece, and she relays her story to Stellen Skarsgaard. The rest of the film is flashback, with Stacy Martin playing the young Joe. All of these stories are likened, by Skarsgaard, to fly fishing, as well as loads of other ‘profound’ rubbish. The dialog is pretty terrible throughout the movie, the acting by some (Shia Laboeuf of course. Seriously what accent was he trying to pull off?) is equally awful. Gainsbourg is good, although most of her ‘acting’ comes in Part Two.

The sex scenes themselves are fairly graphic for a film, but in this day and age of internet pornography, it is surprisingly pretty tame. If Von Trier really wanted to be shocking he would have made this film ten or fifteen years ago. The fact that any genitalia you see actually belongs to an ‘adult entertainer’ and superimposed on to their famous counterpart renders the whole thing stupidly un-shocking. I mean, despite being equally bad, at least Michael Winterbottom didn’t cop out in his film “Nine Songs”.

The best scene for me, because it was actually pretty comedic, was the scene in which Uma Thurman and her kids burst in on her husband at Joe’s house. Thurman, despite actually being in the movie around five minutes, shows most of the others what acting actually is.

Nymphomaniac isn’t terrible, it’s just rendered worse because I get the feeling it’s done as a shock piece. It doesn’t have much weight behind the sex to be honest. It was pretentious, self indulgent, boring and all of the characters were all totally unlikeable, apart from Thurman who I just felt sorry for. Still, compared to Part Two, it’s a classic!

2.5 clappers

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