So this year saw the release of Lars Von Triers films ‘Nymphomaniac Volumes 1 & 2’. I first saw the trailer for the film around November 2013 thinking the film was going to come a month later only to find out it wasn’t going to be in cinema’s until MARCH! I hadn’t yet seen a Triers film but knew about him as a director, I kept researching bits of the film desperate to see the whole thing and bit by bit clips from chapters would be uploaded onto the official website wetting my appetite…
A long with Triers deciding not to do any media coverage for the film the whole build up was like one big conceptual stunt and I was basically really excited to see it. I love how both volumes were aired for one night only with a live Q&A is selected cinema’s like some kind of art piece.
Finally, I watched the whole thing last week (I’ve needed a week to ponder it) and I was so disappointed. So I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and here is my slightly incomprehensible review of Nymphomaniac Volumes I & II:
Triers is known for making films either about sex or with lots of sex, S&M and raw nudity. Nymphomania (sex addiction) is a psychological disorder that can control people’s lives so whether you like it or not- there are social and political connotations. Triers seems to ignore these aside from the very basic prejudice against sex addicts (“Oh she’s such a slut…”) His intentions feel very self indulgent, a sexual person making a film about sex that perhaps fulfils some of his own desires. For a creative piece of work I don’t dislike self-indulgence but it can feel gluttonous and alienating to an audience. I feel that Nymphomaniac lacks a depth that I was expecting considering the sophistication of the build up to the film so by the end of the film I was left thinking “alright, so what…”
Following this one of my main criticism is the casting/chemistry of the protagonist and the character she tells her story to. Jo is found by Seligman in an ally after being beaten up, he takes her to his home, nurses her and she unravels the story of the nymphomaniac.
Volume I is the first half of the story played by Stacey Martin (who’s amazing) and Volume II is the latter half of the nymphomaniac’s life played by Charlotte Gainsburgh (who features in a number of Triers’ films.)
Seligman and Jo at his home
After trying to see the connection between Jo and Seligman and coming to the conclusion that he is an effective listener to allow for the story to come a live. I was disappointed, confused and let down when at the end he basically rapes Jo in her sleep and she then shoots him. So…why? Well no one really knows because then it ends and the loud, shouty music starts playing again. It felt like a cop out of Trier’s behalf. An easy ending with attempted impact to end a tragic story.
I wanted more from Nymphomaniac than what was offered. I wanted more anger, more compassion and more politics and less pretentiousness…
In the same way that pretentious art feels empty and lacking depth, Nymphomaniac is a piece of pretentious artwork. On the surface it is a good film, cleverly produced and moments of beautiful cinematography. Conceptually strong due to the breakdown and themes of the chapters however, it leaves no lasting effect- I saw it once and that’s enough.
Good to look at but quickly forgotten.
(I think this poster is trying too hard…)