Top positive review
Brilliant accomplished film, deeper themes than just sex.
on 19 July 2017
Spoiler free review here, read this and not the others that give too much of it away.
Nymphomaniac is a 2013 film lasting 4 hours (or 5 1/2 if you watch the directors cut) directed by the Danish eccentric director Lars Von Trier. If you aren't familiar with his work, he also directed Antichrist, an experimental horror film, Melancholia, a film about the end of the world and Dogville, a murder film with a stage as the setting. You have to understand him a bit to make sense of what he is trying to say in this movie. There is much to be taken away, religious, musical, mathematical and philosophical references weaves into a story about an adventure that turns dark. It is a must watch if you are a European cinema enthusiast, and aren't easily offended, as real sex is shown and some of it can be disturbing.
It begins with a snowy setting in an alleyway where a woman Joe (Gainsbourg) is injured and is found by an old man Seligan (Skarsgard) who offers to help, she refuses, he invites her inside where she drinks tea, rests and recovers while she tells him her story reluctantly. Seligman is a proxy for the audience, a way for us to hear Joes experience, except Seligman doesn't judge, he only listens to her, and makes amusing metaphorical and allegorical comparisons, like relating the process of catching men to sleep with to catching fish. In Von Trier style there is a dark comical element, when Joe loses her virginity the penetrations on screen are counted 3 times, then 5, resembling the Fibonacci sequence, shown on screen. Jerôme, (Shia La Boeuf) is her only recurring lover, played with an English accent not of this world, sounding more like an Australian hybrid. While it is amusing, the acting performances by all (Uma Thurman, Christian Slater, Willem Dafoe as a debt collector) are all stellar as well as the main cast of course. Despite many of the cast limited to cameos as Joes life moves on, the viewer is still provided with a memorable moment filmed with excellent cinematography and Von Trier style archive footage of Lions, fishing, and skies.
The tone of part I is playful and lighter in nature, while occasionally shocking, while part II lays it on thick in a much darker way, as the tragedy of this film plays out. It is a tragedy in the classical sense, but like I said I won't spoil it.
The characters are written mostly but not completely realistic, as it is much debatable how a woman can be a sex addict and behave in that way, but on the most part, Joe Seligman and Jerome are plausible, and remain so until a twist ending in the final twenty minutes, which in my opinion, the ending was awful and betrayed the way the characters were set up. Some of the plot is illogical but that's just Von Trier.
Enjoy the film, I don't reccommend it for everyone and make sure to set time in your schedule to watch it, you have to watch it all at once in my opinion, since it was intended that way.
P.S. The directors cut includes an abortion debate, a self operated abortion, and more close ups, which LVT himself was fine with emitting so it you can't get hold of the extended cut, or don't want to spend the extra 1 1/2 hours it's fine also.