NYMPHOMANIAC (Volume One) (R18)
Directed by Lars Von Trier
Lars Von Trier is calling Nymphomaniac the third installment in a trilogy that began with AntiChrist, and continued with Melancholia. And as with both those films, Nymphomaniac is a very different film to the one the posters and the marketing campaign are suggesting.
The film is a conversation between Charlotte Gainsbourg's Joe, and Stellan Skarsgard's kindly Seligman. She has taken a beating, he takes her home for tea and sympathy. She recounts her life thus far as a self-described nymphomaniac. Except, no, it's not what you're thinking.
The sex scenes are explicit, but few and far between, and so cool and chilly in their depiction that no one could ever mistake this film for pornography. If anything, it's an exploration - and a very sympathetic one - of sociopathy, and of sexual addiction as a manifestation of that.
I've nothing like the space I need to do this film justice, but I will say Nymphomania is talky, thoughtful, at times darkly funny, unintentionally hilarious (there's a tortuous analogy about fly fishing that had me in stitches), but never less than human, intelligent, and heart-felt.
It is also a bitter satire; of the 1970's European society that spawned Von Trier, and perhaps also of us, the audience, who turn up to watch his films expecting mere provocation, but leave having seen something far more.
Nymphomaniac is being shown in two two-hour Volumes. This is a review of the first one only.
- The Dominion Post