Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellen Skarsgaard, Stacy Martin, Shia Laboeuf, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman

Directed by: Lars Von Trier

Synopsis: A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.

I’ll start by saying I am not a fan of Lars Von Trier. The only time I’ve attempted one of his films previously was Dogville, and I didn’t make it all the way through. Now I’ve seen Nymphomaniac Part’s One and Two I now know that I have no need to see any more Von Trier movies. So, every cloud.

I didn’t hate Part One. I just feel it was tremendously dull and quite lazy. As far as I can tell, Von Trier’s MO is just to shock. I say that because the famed sex scenes in this film don’t seem to have a point. The only was Von Trier could incorporate them (he was obviously desperate to do so) was by framing them with some naff philosophical meanderings spoken from the ‘nymphomaniac’ in question, to a stranger who has taken her in after she is beaten outside his house. Now, to me, that is just lazy. Couldn’t old Lars have come up with a proper story that befits his infamous sex scenes, other than just a woman recounting her life? So, what we get, instead of a gripping story that happens to include graphic sex, is a weak excuse to ram as much sex into the film as possible, for no real reason.

Charlotte Gainsbourg plays Joe, the nymphomaniac of the piece, and she relays her story to Stellen Skarsgaard. The rest of the film is flashback, with Stacy Martin playing the young Joe. All of these stories are likened, by Skarsgaard, to fly fishing, as well as loads of other ‘profound’ rubbish. The dialogue is pretty terrible throughout the movie, the acting by some (Shia Laboeuf of course. Seriously what accent was he trying to pull off?) is equally awful. Gainsbourg is good, although most of her ‘acting’ comes in Part Two.

The sex scenes themselves are fairly graphic for a film, but in this day and age of internet pornography, it is surprisingly pretty tame. If Von Trier really wanted to be shocking he would have made this film ten or fifteen years ago. The fact that any genitalia you see actually belongs to an ‘adult entertainer’ and superimposed on to their famous counterpart renders the whole thing stupidly un-shocking. I mean, despite being equally bad, at least Michael Winterbottom didn’t cop out in his film “Nine Songs”.

The best scene for me, because it was actually pretty comedic, was the scene in which Uma Thurman and her kids burst in on her husband at Joe’s house. Thurman, despite actually being in the movie around five minutes, shows most of the others what acting actually is.

Nymphomaniac isn’t terrible, it’s just rendered worse because I get the feeling it’s done as a shock piece. It doesn’t have much weight behind the sex to be honest. It was pretentious, self indulgent, boring and all of the characters were all totally unlikeable, apart from Thurman who I just felt sorry for. Still, compared to Part Two, it’s a classic!

2.5 clappers

About thomasjford

I like Movies and Music and most things popular culture.


  1. Well, let me disagree with you on.. Everything? 🙂 I don’t think he was trying to be shocking, he was merely trying to portray sex as something normal. People perceive it as “shocking” because most films don’t have a lot of sex scenes. Also, you’ve probably seen the censored version, so yeah, there’s not a lot of explicit sex, but that’s the original cut (featuring professional adult actors). It IS actually pretty profound if you let it be. I’ll agree that it’s a bit on the nose sometimes, but then if Skårsgaard didn’t explain a lot of the symbolism we’d probably understand even less of it. I think the performances are great all around, Thurman just happens to be given the most “showy” role, which allowed her to go crazy.

    • Haha, I thought you might Davide! I’m pretty sure it was the uncensored version I saw? I’m not sure how I would be able to tell or not though. I just thought, despite not being terrible, that it was just pretentious and boring mostly. And I can’t see any artistic merit in it. If, as you say, Von Trier did it to portray sex as something normal, he sure filled it up with less than normal sex! I mean, who really goes to see Billy Elliott for some sado masochistic favours?! Besides, anyone with a computer can access as much sex (normal or not) as they want nowadays, meaning the film was actually preaching an outdated message. To my mind anyway!

      • I think the uncut version only screened at festivals. But anyway the film is about much more than just sex. I think it actually just uses sex as a device to comment on a number of things, mainly depression, but also religion and humanity in general. I think there were plenty of artistic merits and found it touroghly funny and entertaining. But I guess it’s not for everyone.. But I wouldn’t compare it to pornography though, I don’t think that’s the same category.

      • Maybe not, although some of the acting belonged straight out of a porn flick (Shia Labouef anyone?!) and to be honest I felt it was all empty philosophy really, dressed up to sound profound but wasn’t really at all. Just my take on it though man. To be fair, i didn’t HATE it like I thought I would.

  2. Shows that von Trier is still able to try out and mess around with new things, even if they are a bit weird and strange. Then again, it’s what we’ve come to expect from him. Good review.

  3. I like your review. Haven’t seen it and probably won’t. Some like it and you clearly didn’t. I appreciate Lars Von Trier attempts for innovative film-making, but I believe you are right when you say it would have been shocking 15 years ago.

  4. theipc

    I thought Part One was intriguing enough to check out Part Two which I thought was deplorable. Uma Thurman was definitely the best thing about this movie and she didn’t even get nekkid….

    • Ha, yeah what a prude! I thought it was OK (in relation to what I thought it might be like) but still, wasn’t a big fan. And agreed, Part Two is even worse!

  5. This one was a decent watch! I had a bit of fun with it despite not loving it! I can totally see how someone could hate it though and I would never even bother to argue with them!

  6. Good review, Tom. I am not a von Trier fan either. His works just are not my cup of tea…

  7. Hmm I thought a long time about seeing this, but honestly I think I would rather watch “Melancholia” instead.

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