Movie Review
Nymphomaniac: Vol. I
Nymphomaniac: Vol. I poster
By Craig Younkin     Published March 22, 2014
US Release: March 21, 2014

Directed by: Lars von Trier
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg , Christian Slater , Jamie Bell , Stellan Skarsgård

NC-17
Running Time: 118 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $763,000
B+
{Lars von Trier} continuously keeps this film both provocative and moving, and leaves us wondering what Volume 2 could possibly hold.
Craig Younkin is also a reviewer for Movie Room Reviews

Mr. Brightside is at it again! Danish filmmaker Lars Von Trier again combines uncomfortable sexual situations with mental illness in “Nymphomaniac,” the first of a pre-planned two part film that chronicles one young woman’s erotic journey from Milan to Minsk…oh wait that’s Seinfeld’s “Rochelle Rochelle."

It’s actually about Joe, who we first see played by Charlotte Gainsbourg (no stranger to getting her hands dirty with Von Trier as she also did “Anti-Christ” and “Melancholia”), lying bloodied in an alley. She is taken in by a kindly philosophical man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) who proceeds to listen to her story of how she became more and more acquainted with her private parts throughout her life.

Is it a dirty story? Actually not as much as you might think. The image of a two year old dragging herself over the floor for stimulation is going to ruffle some feathers but overall this is a movie (Volume 1 anyway) about emptiness, about being pre-programmed against the complications of love and just reducing the idea of intimacy with another person into an impersonal game. However Von Trier shows us just enough later on in scenes chaptered beforehand as “Delirium” to make us believe that that emptiness is going to be analyzed further in Volume 2.

There is some terrific acting work being done here, first from Gainsbourg, whose character we will see go from detached sexuality to shamed rock-bottom by the end of this thing, and Skarsgard as the comforting therapeutic listener (although the comparisons he makes between her life and music + fly-fishing reeks of over-analysis). Stacy Martin, as the teenage Joe, anchors it well with a seductive innocence and Shia LaBeouf comes in and out as either a true love or irresponsible creep. But the two performances that really stay with you here come from a biting and distraught Uma Thurman, as a woman whose husband has been stolen by Joe, as well as surprisingly Christian Slater, giving his best performance in decades as Joe’s father, the only person she knows for a fact she really did love.

Von Trier gives us all the nude shots and unsimulated sex (actually done by imposing porn star genitals over the ones of the actors so anyone hoping to get a glimpse of some A-list porn will be disappointed) we could possibly want but he continuously keeps this film both provocative and moving, and leaves us wondering what Volume 2 could possibly hold.
Craig's Grade: B+
Craig's Overall Grading: 337 graded movies
A11.0%
B41.5%
C31.8%
D15.4%
F0.3%
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'Nymphomaniac: Vol. I' Articles
  • Lee's review C
    March 22, 2014    The acting is all fine but as per usual for a Lars von Trier production, I didn’t have any emotional investment. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Crowd Report Analysis: Nymphomaniac
    March 22, 2014    In West LA the film enjoyed healthy attendance at its one art-house on opening day and I calculated that it was likely grossing between $6,500 and 7,500. -- Lee Tistaert
  • Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 Outlook
    March 18, 2014    There’s an audience for everything, on some level, and Lars von Trier's few fans are going to be showing up. -- Lee Tistaert