Film Review: Nature, Morality Collide in ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1’

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CHICAGO – Director and writer Lars von Trier creates exposure through his film art. He is unafraid to explore the very nature of being human, while at the same time revealing the very foibles of barriers to our nature – social structures, economies, religion and our own conceits in life. Lars von Trier’s latest barrier breaker is “Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1.”

HollywoodChicago.com Oscarman rating: 5.0/5.0
Rating: 5.0/5.0

The title is deceptive – there will be a Vol. 2 released in a couple weeks, with a conclusion to the story – and the term “nymphomaniac” is a loaded gun of unyielding and unwarranted interpretation. The term is like a fingerprint, virtually everyone who can define will define it differently beyond one sentence. In the film’s case study, the title character is a woman – one with a complex psychological past that is connected to a desperate itch to scratch. In her life, the “nymphomania” is shown to be easy to do, but not without negative consequences to her and others. Lars von Trier tells her tale with a straightforwardness – the film is graphically sexual – to provide an understanding of the intricacies that occur within the physical action. In what we find out, who are we to judge?

A bruised and battered woman named Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is found in an alleyway by a man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard). He takes her in, and she refuses medical help beyond rest. As she recovers, she begins to tell Seligman her story, and it focuses on a hypersexual urge she has had since childhood. The narrative continues in flashback, with the the younger Joe (Stacy Martin).

Joe’s story begins with early experimentation – her best friend and she have a competition as to how many men they can seduce on a train – and gradually morphs into her young adult life, with a random series of hook-ups. Her main relationship is with Jerome (Shia LaBeouf), who took her virginity in her young life and haunts her thereafter. She also goes through the sad death of her father (Christian Slater), who was portrayed as a passionate influence.

“Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1” has a limited release, including Chicago, on March 21st. Featuring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater and Uma Thurman. Written and directed by Lars von Trier. Not Rated, but contains sexually graphic scenes.

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Nymphomaniac: Vol 1”

Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin
Jerome (Shia LaBeouf) and Young Joe (Stacy Martin) in ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1’
Photo credit: Magnolia Pictures

StarContinue reading for Patrick McDonald’s full review of “Nymphomaniac: Vol 1”

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