Title: Nymphomaniac Volume I
Director: Lars Von Trier
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Sophie Kennedy, Connie Nielsen.
The controversial Danish director, Lars Von Trier, has always adopted a recherché-unconventional way of portraying important topics, and does so once again with his ultimate film, ‘Nymphomaniac,’ that traces the sexual escapades of a young woman named Joe, who recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saves her after a beating.
The very long cinematographic essay on the self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, has been split into two pieces due to its excessive length. Combined, Volumes I and II add up to about four hours, where the first instalment will hit theatres on March 21st, and will also be available on demand form March 6th; whereas the second part of the movie will be in cinemas on April 18th, with an on-demand drop date of April 3rd. Apparently an even longer director’s cut exists (and has been exhibited in some venues), but so far the first Volume will be available to the audience’s fruition, and is amusingly divided in chapters: “The Compleat Angler,” “Jerôme,” “Mrs. H,” “Delirium,” “The Little Organ School.”
The drollness of these chapters is that the hardcore brief shots of the story are wreathed with bizarre thematic tangents that apparently make no sense at all – with subjects such as fly fishing and Fibonacci numbers – but all of these digressions actually wrap the tale of lifelong sexual depravity with ponderings on philosophy, nature, science and love. Hence, for a movie that features so much naked flesh, it’s surprising how thoroughly un-erotic ‘Nymphomaniac’ is.
The majority of ‘Nymphomaniac Volume I’ comprises flashbacks as Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg/Stacy Martin) relates her life’s story to her benefactor (Stellan Skarsgard): she talks about her earliest sexual feelings, her relationship with her father (Christian Slater), how she and a friend (Sophie Kennedy Clark) seduced men on a train, how the wife (Uma Thurman) of one of her preys confronted her, and how the trajectory of her life criss-crossed with that of her true love, Jerome (Shia LaBeouf).
The film stars Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin (making her feature debut, as young Joe), Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Sophie Kennedy, Connie Nielsen, who are immortalised in the promotional movie posters with facial expressions that ironically reveal throes of passion. The entire cast is acute and earnest in breathing life into the characters of this tale, without succumbing to bromide. Thus, at no time would even the most perverse viewer consider Nymphomaniac rotten.
Written by: Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi