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Nymphomaniac: Volume 1

In Lars Von Trier’s latest film, Charlotte Gainbourg plays Joe, found lying bleeding in the street by Seligman, played by Stellan Skarsgard. She refuses an ambulance, and Seligman brings her to her apartment. Joe spends the movie describing various chapters in her life that together create the tapestry of her sexual obsession. Von Trier’s films are incredibly inventive and intriguing (and in some ways works of art); here, he continues his experiments with narrative form, camera angles, emotion, mood, and actor choices in ways that make this movie so interesting to watch. Psychologically, the story challenges a variety of stereotypes about the origins of “nymphomania”. There are some interesting choices of actors that work – Christian Slater has one of the most touching roles as her father; Shia LaBoeuf is her first love;   and Uma Thurman has one of her most hilarious, and brilliantly executed, roles as a wife dumped by one of Joe’s lovers. I loved the way it begins (the director carries you along and finds a way to suddenly “wake you up”) and how it ends by setting you up for so many possibilities of how her story continues. Thumbs up from me for a movie that is not perfect but certainly never dull, has me still pondering several days after seeing it, and that is psychologically rich and complex. If the title did not already dissuade viewers, the graphic sexuality probably will; however, anyone who is a Lars Von Trier fan should definitely see it. (2014; 3.5 Stars)

About Gary Burkholder

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