- Directed by: Lars Von Trier
- With: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin
- 110 Minutes
- IMDb: 7.4
Warning: This review contains some minor spoilers that were necessary in order to summarize the story and revealing my opinion.
After reading so many great reviews regarding this movie, after all the controversy and after the series of clips that Von Trier showed on the official web page, I was ready to this journey into the world of a nymphomaniac. My first “Von Trier experience” was “Antichrist” and it was really sick and disturbing, so I had a feeling that “Nymphomaniac” was just another “Antichrist” but with more sex scenes. I actually find this funny since both Willem Dafoe and Charlotte Gainsburg are in the movie. After the first 25 minutes of the movie I was sure about one thing, Lars Von Trier got my attention and interest. The soft beginning accompanied by Rammstein’s “Führe Mich” was a great way to start this 4-hour and half story. Joe was found in the middle of a street by a nice old man named Seligman (which means “blessed man” in German) who wanted to rescue her. While giving her comfort, Seligman asks her about her story and then in the middle of fishing metaphors, the viewer sees himself in the middle of Joe’s story.
While Joe is telling her unusual story, Seligman is trying to understand what was really going on inside her mind by confronting her with some aspects regarding fishing tricks and fish stuff. We are introduced to one of Joe’s childhood friends, B, who drives Joe into a world of sex and cult (recognized by Seligman as a Satanic cult) and to the guy who stole Joe’s virginity when she was fifteen years-old, Jerôme (interpreted by the one and only “Mr. I’m Not Famous Anymore”, Shia LaBeouf). In that particular scene, Joe focuses on the numbers 3 and 5 (both Fibonacci numbers) that will have a connection with the final chapter of Volume 1.
The movie is divided into 5 chapters:
- The first one, The Complete Angler, is about Joe discovering herself right in the middle of her childhood. She started to explore herself sexually and becoming interested in her genitalia in a young age so when she was an 18-year-old woman, we watch her learning how to attract man in a train in a competition against B for a bag of chocolates. We also learn that her connection with her mother was really poor and that she loved her father. He probably taught her everything interesting that she knew about the world that surrounded her.
- The second chapter, Jerôme, is about her relationship with the same guy that stole her virginity and that after a couple of months decides to travel around the world with his other secretary (which was also his wife).
- The third chapter, Mrs. H, is about Joe being a lot more aggressive with guys. She starts fu****g a lot of guys in a short period of time and she sees herself in the middle of a troubled relationship between a man who I have nothing relevant to say about and the always exceptional Uma Thurman (Mrs. H). As a depressed woman who just found out that her husband was cheating on her, Uma Thurman does an absolutely terrific job by giving a lunatic and really desperate look to the poor woman.
- The fourth chapter, Delirium, is about Joe’s relationship with her father.
- The fifth and final chapter, The Little Organ School, is about the basic constitution of one of Bach’s symphonies according to Seligman. He believes that the music is divided into 3 basic and important sections and again as a metaphor we are introduced to three important men that ruled the world of Joe.
Trust me when I say to you that some of the sex scenes are a bit hardcore but the way that story goes on is really amazing to watch. I laughed, I was shocked and I enjoyed almost every single minute of the movie. I felt a mix of emotions that made me connect with all the characters. Charlotte Gainsburg’s character was a lot more tolerable when compared with her character on “Antichrist” and she does a really nice job by interpreting a poor woman who believes that she is pure evil and that his against herself. The technical aspects of the movie look a bit like most of Von Trier’s previous works, with great shots and a beautiful cinematography that follows an unpredictable story that may leave you speechless in the end.
But what surprises me the most is that I’m only half way through this journey. Stacy Martin was the right pick to interpret Young Joe and she makes a really good job by managing to be realistic in some really messed up scenes. It was sad, intense and also darkly funny with a lot of sarcasm in the middle. Nymphomaniac is definitely not the type of movie that you should watch with your girlfriend and family members but I must advise you to watch it due to its strength and its well told story. Lars Von Trier is without any doubt a great storyteller and if he decided correctly to start softly this sexually epic movie by exploring the character’s characteristics, he also gave a quick, brutal, funny and strong touch to the final chapter and that was a great way to end this volume 1.
Uma Thurman, Stacy Martin and Charlote Gainsburg’s great performances accompanied by a strong story and an amazing directing style by Lars Von Trier almost made me forget all the controversy regarding the movie. Yes, it has a lot of sex scenes but it was definitely a great work. Darkly funny, sad, controversy and also original, Nymphomaniac-Volume 1 is a great way to begin this journey into the world of Joe.