Customer Review

31 of 49 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lars Von Trier Has (Unfortunately) Lost The Plot!, 24 Feb. 2014
This review is from: Nymphomaniac Vol I. & Vol II. (2 Disc Blu-ray) (Blu-ray)
With all the hype surrounding Von Trier's recent release, I had high hopes for this film. Moreso as a fan of his previous works, such as MELANCHOLIA, THE IDIOTS, DANCER IN THE DARK, and ANTICHRIST.

Sadly, the hype was totally unnecessary!

First of all, if you are expecting a 4-hour marathon hardcore porno, then you will be (justifiably) disappointed. In fact, if you are even expecting any shocks of any kind, then I think you will still be disappointed. This is NOT that shocking, not compared to previous Von Trier works. Hence, I can see why the BBFC had no problem passing this uncut and uncensored with an 18 certificate.

Secondly, the film is split into two parts: NYMPHOMANIAC Volume 1 runs to about 118 minutes, and Volume 2 is approximately 125 minutes. However, you can't watch them seperately, or in reverse order, as Volume 2 continues straight-off from the end of Volume 1.

With that said, this is a crushing disappointment. Although Volume 1 starts off very well, after the first hour-or-so, it descends into tedium and cackhandidness. The film is divided into eight chapters: Chapters 1-5 make up Volume 1, and then Chapters 6-8 make up Volume 2. By Chapter 3, irritation was beginning to set in with me, and many other people who had paid to view the ONE NIGHT STAND event in which both Volumes were shown back-to-back, across the UK on Saturday 22nd February.

The film follows Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) spining a tale all about her sordid sex life, to a virginal man (Stellan Skarsgard) in his small flat, from the age of 7/8 through to her middle-age. Each chapter covers one part of her tale, and tenuously links it with another theme: Fibonacci Numbers, fly-fishing, the human condition, etc, etc. Initially, this is very off-putting, but as a fan of Von Trier, I was happy to just go-with-the-flow, as his films are rarely linear in nature. Sadly, by Chapter 3, I was getting restless. This is the chapter that Uma Thurman appears in, and it doesn't work. What starts off as a woman demanding to know why her marriage is now being decimated, becomes unintentionally stupid by the end. The humour, and there is a lot of humour in this Chapter, and throughout the film, seemed forced, to the point that people seemed to be laughing at the film, rather than with it.

By the end of Volume 1, you just feel drained. It's a long tale, told in an agonisingly painful fashion. Volume 2 is, in my view, the better half, but it has just as many flaws as the first one. Shia LaBeouf plays Jerome, Joe's boyfriend and husband, but as an actor, he just can't act for toffee. I'm sorry, but he is simply too infantile and talentless. At no point do I see Jerome as the man he is supposed to be. What I do see, is Shia hamming it up, and coming across like a complete turd, almost as if he doesn't give a damn about the film he's supposed to be in. That's fine, but don't sign-up to a project like this, simply to take the money, and then faff-around like a pillock!

The film does have an ending, so if you do manage to sit through all four hours, you do reach a conclusion that is reasonably satisfying. But this is a film that is going to bore many people, long before it entertains them. It's not that well written and filmed, though some occasional moments of brilliance do appear, but these are few and far between. The rest of the film's gargantuan duration, is just annoying, stilted and cloying. Underneath this epic mess, there is a great film desperate to get out. If Von Trier had trimmed it by at least a whole hour, then he would have made a better film. But even between two-and-a-half and three hours total, it still would have been pushing things. At four hours, it's just needlessly excessive bloat.

Yes, the film does feature some explicit adult sexual material, but if you've survived ANTICHRIST, or THE IDIOTS, then this is unlikely to shock or sicken you. Shots of female and male genitalia, in this day-and-age, are not going to offend that many of Von Trier's fans, and it doesn't here. What sexual material there is, is relatively restrained, so if you intend to watch this, with the idea of getting-off on it, then you will be extremely disappointed, because it's simply not the pornographic epic that the press have been claiming NYMPHOMANIAC is. It really isn't. There's maybe 20 minutes of sexual material, throughout the entire 4 hours! The rest is narrative and drama.

Many of the guest cast are wasted. Connie Nielsen, as Joe's mother, barely warrants her name being attached to this project, as she appears for a handful of minutes at most. Christian Slater, as Joe's father gets a bigger and more interesting role, yet things happen to him, that aren't explained. (His mystery illness in Volume 2, for example!)

Gainsbourg puts her all into the role, and for that, I commend her. Skarsgard does his best, with the material he's given, but it's not his best work, that's for sure. Newcomer Stacy Martin, as Joe as a youngster, is very impressive in her screen debut, and equals Gainsbourg with gusto, and for that, she should be commended also. This can't have been an easy role for any actress to take on, let alone someone new to cinema.

But ultimately, this is a film that really goes nowhere, and will leave many frustrated. There is a good film hidden here, but what we've got is not worth the sum of its parts.

As such, I can only give this film 2-Stars. It really isn't that good!
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Tracked by 3 customers

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Showing 1-4 of 4 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 4 May 2014 22:59:20 BDT
BoatDrinks says:
Please explain how Stacey Martin's "performance" is impressive. Were we watching the same film? All I saw was a momumentally vacant girl with absolutely no idea what the hell she was doing. Her work in this film is right down there with other non-actresses, such as Ali McGraw in The Getaway and Juliette Lewis in anything. Next you'll be telling us that Christian Slater's English accent was spot-on. I totally agree this film is no good, but come on, be serious- that chick has a pretty face, nice body and absolutely no acting talent.

In reply to an earlier post on 6 May 2014 11:25:41 BDT
PoochJD says:
It's "impressive" because Ms Martin's role in NYMPHOMANIAC was her first ever role, right out of drama school. As such, for an unknown to take on the role, and it required a lot of her - nudity, sexual material, etc, which many other actresses would simply have refused to do, let alone do it without the aid of body-doubles, etc, was in my view (and please not these three rather important words - in, my, view!), impressive.

If you don't feel that way, that's fine.

In reply to an earlier post on 17 May 2014 21:54:43 BDT
And what a hairy arse Charlotte Gainsborough has got! Shocking!

In reply to an earlier post on 19 May 2014 11:37:20 BDT
PoochJD says:
@Clint McGavin - I'm sure Ms Gainsborough thinks certain aspects of your masculine body are just as perfectly-sized too! ;)
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