Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (2013) Poster

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An utter waste of your time.
Rob_Taylor6 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
It's rare I give a movie a single star, but I'll do it here. Before anyone freaks, let me say that the pornography did not in any way bother me at all. I've seen plenty of porn in my time and all of it, without exception, was done better than in this film.

The problem I have with this movie is more to do with the fact that it is deadly tedious and boring! No, seriously, with this much T&A in a film, it still manages to be utterly boring. It is impossible to empathise with the central female character because she seems so totally unlikable. She happily screws anyone and anything that she lays eyes on.

As a study of actual nymphomaniacs, I find this rather blunt portrayal of people with a sexual problem to be gratuitous and sensationalist and totally without any real concern for the subject matter being "showcased". It wasn't enough to simply follow the plight of a woman with a problem, you had to put her into every conceivable sexual cliché there was, just to get across your point that she was a sex addict?

Let me put it this way. If I went to a local porn shop, rented a dozen different movies about a dozen different aspects of sexual activity, then spliced the footage together with the non-sexual content from Nymphomaniac, you wouldn't notice the difference. Everything from bondage and sado-masochism, to threesomes, anal, oral, lesbianism and interracial material shows up here. It's like a porno pick 'n' mix!

Most of the time I was laughing so much at the utter absurdity of it. As I said, it's impossible to feel any kind of sympathy for the woman in the "story" (yeah, I used quotes deliberately there..) because the whole thing is such a sorry mess.

What we have here is another attempt to make a "cerebral" movie that falls flat on its face. The audience for this movie is unidentifiable. Those seeking a thoughtful study will be sorely disappointed and those looking for cheap titillation will find themselves bored to tears most of the time. Anyone seeking an actual story will likewise be left feeling cheated.

All in all, it fails. Another over-hyped excuse for "cinematic art" that accomplishes none of its stated goals. If it succeeds, it will be because people have been suckered into thinking its something that it isn't.

This is so preposterous that I expect the DVD/BluRay release will have a bright yellow, star-shaped sticker on the front emblazoned with the words "Contains actual penises and vaginas!" in a sensationalist font.

SUMMARY: Pretentious nonsense masquerading as an art movie. Hollow and dull, relying too much on its much-hyped pornographic content which is, frankly, dull as ditch water. Best avoided, though it is amusing in a "train-wreck" kind of way.
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Bl()()dy b()ring.
BA_Harrison19 November 2017
A man, Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), finds a woman, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), beaten and bruised in a snowy alleyway. He takes her to his grotty little apartment where she recounts her life story in which she cannot keep her knickers on for more than a few minutes.

'Am I boring you?' asks sex addict Joe in the middle of Lars Von Trier's Nymph()maniac: Vol. I.

Why yes… yes, you are, you tedious little bint, and so is everyone else in this pseudo-intellectual art-house porn flick aimed at chin-stroking perverts who want to be seen as cultured while getting their kicks.

As you might have guessed, I loathed every single frame of this incredibly boring piece of pretentious X-rated garbage, and all those that made it possible. I hope that none of you ever work again. It's not that I'm averse to the odd spot of cinematic filth, only when it's as pompous and painfully prolonged as this film, which, together with Vol. 2, clocks in at well over four hours.

I wonder how many people who paid to see this first volume actually bothered to go and see the next instalment. I'm guessing not many.
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More than just sex
rubenm4 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
To be honest, I had my doubts when I went to see this film. After all the buzz, I more or less expected a provocative, pretentious, incomprehensible film. I thought 'Nyphomaniac' would be a shallow artistic excuse to show lots of explicit sex in an attempt to shock the audience and create controversy.

Well, I was wrong.

Is it provocative? In some ways, yes. I think choosing nymphomania as a subject for a film is already some sort of provocation. And there are some scenes that might be considered tasteless or mildly shocking. But if I would have to describe the film in one word, I wouldn't use 'provocative'. Instead, I would use 'imaginative'.

Because that is what this film is: imaginative. It's so full of ideas, full of creativity and full of cinematographic exuberance that it's hard not be impressed. The nice thing is that Lars Von Trier never takes himself too seriously. In a way, it's a pity that the film is about sex. So much attention is being given to the number of penises shown (many, in a very funny way) and the number of vagina close-ups (none, in fact, at least in part 1) that it overshadows everything else, including the creative way the film is made.

'Nyphomaniac' is a classic frame story. A sex-obsessed woman named Joe tells her life to a man called Seligman who found her bleeding in a back alley. Seligman in turn tells her about things in his own life, like fly fishing, Fibonacci numbers or organ music. Their conversation is the backbone of the film - the side stories about Joe's sex adventures and Seligman's hobbies are divided into chapters. Von Trier uses lots of different film styles: he throws in animations, split screens, cross cutting, black & white, and at one point even a fast succession of snapshots. This makes for a very quirky film, that keeps on surprising.

One wonderful example of this creative approach is the final chapter, where Joe sees a similarity between her complicated love life and Seligman's favourite piece of polyphonic organ music. She compares her lovers to the three different melodic tunes in the music. The way Von Triers visualizes this, with the screen split in three to show cross cuttings of the organ and the lovers, is original and funny at the same time.

So, in spite of all the indications to the contrary, this film is about as far removed from porn as Woody Allen is from Mickey Mouse. 'Nymphomaniac' deserves to be remembered for more than just sex.
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Hey! Like - Hello!!?? All That Fuss Over This!!??
strong-122-4788855 November 2017
Ho-hum!... Well - Here we go again!.... Nymphomaniac, like "Shame" and "Looking For Mister Goodbar", is yet another sordid, unsavoury and sneering look at the consequences that are apparently supposed to result from excessive promiscuity.

When it comes to sheer heavy-handedness - This shamelessly preachy, little picture self-righteously tells the viewer that having lots of sex with many partners is a hateful thing (so don't you dare love it).

This is the sort of movie that neither stimulates the mind nor arouses the libido. Nope. It absolutely numbs both. If you are expecting Nymphomaniac to live up to its title as being an intensely pleasant and wildly erotic experience, you are definitely in for a major disappointment.

Incompetently directed by Lars Von Trier (who must be an utterly despicable prig) - Nymphomaniac amounted to being nothing but a dreary, little soap opera (with lots of graphic sex thrown in for good measure) that took 4 frickin' hours to get its shallow, sex-hating point across..... Sheesh! Like - Hey! Give me a break, already!
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The Work of a Genius !
rondo89828 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
You will, I sincerely hope, not be offended if I were to speculate that you were enticed into inquiring into this movie and, for that matter, even reading this very review, because of the movie's title, yes? And the title obviously reflects on the movie's content which is focused on the reproductive arts. And, I shall further speculate that were the movie instead titled, say, "Existentialism" or such, and the story concerned a group of nuns who begin to question their faith, you wouldn't be reading this at all, would you?

Of course you know that von Trier is a celebrated director, but you didn't quite get around to seeing his masterpiece Dogville, did you? Nor, I suspect, have you seen his quirky 2007 cinema, The Boss of It All. In fact, the only reason you are even remotely interested in "Nymphomaniac" is that it depicts venery in an explicit manner. Confess! It's all true, isn't it?

Wait! Keep reading! Don't go away! It's OK! I know you're not like that, because you have standards. You would never watch or read porn. That's so . . . so . . . so >degrading< and low-class. But since you're a mature adult, very open minded and not bound by the strictures of organized religion, you have no objection to serious cinema with erotic content, do you? I mean, as long as it's tastefully done?

I'm here to assure you that "Nymphomaniac" is >not< pornography, because none of the actresses (or actors, mustn't be sexist here) have had any breast augmentation, nor do they wear cosmetics in the manner of slatternly women. For that matter, rest secure in the knowledge that absolutely nothing arousing occurs during any of the movie. No pleasure whatsoever, so it's safe. Your dog could watch it and not begin to look at you funny.

That's why von Trier is, without question, an absolute genius. Sex is one of the few natural pleasures we enjoy here in this vale of tears, and just as the finest minds of industry have ruined the joys of victualry and turned the simple act of eating into a problem, the brilliance of of von Trier is that he has ruined sex. "Joe," the protagonist of the movie, has sex frequently, but she doesn't enjoy it at all, and von Trier does his best to make certain that you don't either.

If you think about it, that's not such an easy feat. Suppose that you were given a camera, a crew and a group of attractive actors who don't mind nudity and simulating sex acts and were told to make a movie depicting venery, it would be difficult for you to make something completely unpleasant to watch. But von Trier has accomplished something you could never do: in this movie, no one has any pleasure. ex is presented as something perverse and unpleasant. "Joe" only engages in it because she's emotionally disturbed, or because her domineering girlfriend made her do it, or because of some Freudian mumbo- jumbo, and she obviously dislikes each experience, starting with the first brief penetration that hurts her.

>SPOILER ALERT!< Don't fall for the brief scenes near the end, of her actually enjoying her three lovers. Those are fantasies she tells in response to having Bach played for her. The music of J. S. Bach is the sublime representation of empyreal purity, and Bach fathered twenty children, so it's good, clean, church-sanctioned, procreative sex, not the naughty fun kind. (Ooo, look! He's bathing her! How lovely! How clean! How innocuous! What movie is this?) But as soon as the music stops, she announces, while in union, "I feel nothing."

The hypothetical sex movie you would write and direct would be unlikely to have acting that is as bland, tedious and affectless as the acting in "Nymphomaniac," but that's the way Lars von Trier wants it, because viewing good acting would be a pleasure to watch, and he wants to drain anything enjoyable out. I can imagine him shouting direction, "No! No! Make it even more lifeless! More monotonous!"

An obvious exception to this is the salient performance by Uma Thurman, but in that scene, the fine actress is introduced for the sole purpose of making a deliberately unpleasant situation even more disturbing. It goes on for an excruciatingly long time, because von Trier wants to rub your nose in the message: sex ruins lives and makes people miserable. The scene is comedic, but only in the way slapstick is.

Von Trier is not the first director to make a movie depicting sex as repulsive. The late Ken Russell also wrote and directed movies with that effect. Like this movie, Russell's movies were also promoted by ads and posters featuring an enticing shot of a woman in ecstasy, but that was just to lure you in. The movie itself taught you a lesson of rue. It is, after all, the glorious puritanical heritage of those of us of Northern European descent. We're not like those filthy people down there in the tropical climes, going at it like they was rabbits. Shame, shame, double shame on their gratification and pleasure! No wonder God punishes them!

All the enthusiastic reviews here are written under the pretense that there is some profound message embedded in this movie (especially the bedpan scene). The profound message is that sex must be presented strictly in terms of social isolation and as a manifestation of emotional disturbance. "Joe," represents all the repressed feelings of guilt and shame metastasizing deep within you. After all, if sex were depicted in a uniformly joyous light, you'd have to go to some sleazy site where they'd rip-off your credit card information.
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Fortunately movies don't have an aroma (spoiler. If that's possible)
MannyInNewYork13 January 2015
Why I believe this was complete crap. Pretentious dialog, boring unappealing characters and cheap shot shock-value scenes. Some suggest that this was originally constructed as a porn film and that it was later "re-cut" in an attempt to pass it off as an art-film – whatever – it sucked. Much like in the scene where the bondage-boy tells our leading lady that "she isn't ready yet" (which he determined by inserting his fingers into her and then "inspecting " his fingers) – I was clearly not ready either – this is garbage.

Pointless. Depressing. No redeeming value. If I had to find something positive to say about this cinematic turd, I'd have to say that it served as a reminder of just how lame the pompous "artsy" crowd can be. I love the critics calling it "a major work". Work? Really? My fav review says it "succeeds to organically synthesize the world, ideas and filmmaking savvy of Von trier" – "organically synthesize" – what exactly does this mean (if it means it's a POS then I agree. If not, I just don't know)?

Go to youtube and watch the Poo Pourri commercials – better acting and the message is clear – some things just stink. This movie is one of them.
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MrMcMurphy14 August 2014
Well, to be fair, interesting THEN painful.

At first you are taken in with the actors and the provocative scenes. But, just as soon as you're in, you're quickly taken back out by the completely UNNATURAL DIALOGUE between the main character and the host she is telling her stories to. (The dialogue tries to be deep, but it ends up being just plain silly).

On the other hand, it's almost worth watching just for the comical aspect of this, just to see the two actors telling the stories keep a straight face while they're saying such SILLY things - their solemness is the icing on the cake.

As for the "provocative" stuff, it doesn't really have the bite it might have pre-internet.

It just ends up being Art at the expense of entertainment - abstract for the sake of being abstract, and provocative for the sake of being provocative.
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The film equivalent of the Soho good-time girl
simondclinch-12 June 2014
A mindless romp of sick-making sensationalist perversion, lacking even in pornographic value. Not all of Lars von Triers films are this bad. Just almost all. And this one does fall into the category of those which aim to exploit sensationalism without delivering any compensating merit.

Looking back on his films, it has been a while since I can bother to watch more than 30 minutes of such tripe and this one is no exception.

The average rating is a poor reflection on the average viewer. I don't mind sex and violence as long as they are presented in the context of a decent plot, such as can be found in the Ancient Roman genre of films and TV series. But there is no plot here. So just forget it and move on!
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Boring and more boring
Miss_Xray20 February 2016
This film is neither sexy or interesting. I had to turn it off. The only reason why I gave it two stars and not one is that... they started and ended with Rammstein. so basically.. watch the beginning and the end if you want something good. I thought first "this is promising, some good music, but then maybe it will be a shitty film" and yes it was. I search for some erotic films, but real tired of films like this ending up in those lists.. just cause it contains sex doesn't make it erotic. If I had known from the start it was a Lars Von Trier film, I hadn't tried to watch it. I've never watched anything watchable that he made. But guess the man has some good taste in music.
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Very little art in a movie that would be boring if it didn't have so much sex.
filipemanuelneto7 December 2017
Contrary, perhaps, to the majority of the public, I decided to see this film because of the name of its director, Lars von Trier. If I liked "Antichrist", I don't know yet very well what to think about this film. The script is the story of a woman who calls herself a nymphomaniac, but whose pursuit of pleasure seems to have taken her too far, to the point that she also wants to believe that she's a lousy human being. When she is found fainted after a beating, she decides to tell her life to the nice man who helped her. From there, the film unfolds into two intercommunicating ways: the dissolute life of this girl, Joe, and the exchange of comments between her and the good Samaritan, Seligman, who insists on not seeing her alleged perversity.

The film is absolutely loaded with explicit sex, with genitals close ups and penetration scenes. Von Trier remains faithful to the rule of showing everything that is spoken. So this movie requires you to be, at least, able not to be scandalized by that. On the other hand, sex scenes are so cruel and insensitive that you probably will not take any pleasure in watching it. This is not a porn movie made for us to get excited, but the idea is to get the opposite effect: like Joe, we don't feel anything. Emotionally violent, the film raises constant moral and ethical issues regarding religion, psychology, relationships, etc.

Charlotte Gainsbourg has done well enough in this film, although its not the best performance of her career, and the same can be said about Stellan Skarsgård. Their performances seemed too warm and very monotone, and their dialogues range from obscenity to the monotony of the most sterile philosophical discussions. In contrast, Joe and Seligman could not be on more opposing poles: She's a girl who lives to feed her sexual addiction, in a way that we would find dirty and reprehensible; Seligman is absolutely pure and innocent, inasmuch as he does nothing wrong, he is a virgin and lives in a world of books, theories and classical music. Uma Thurman seems to be in the middle. She is the most violent and intense actress in the film, in that she plays the betrayed woman, a person just like any of us, who saw her life being destroyed by a lolita. And so, the emotive and explosive way as she behaves comes closer to us than any other character.

I liked the actors and the way they worked, I think it suits the movie and the characters they gave them. I liked the way the theme was presented, with the sinner making a confession in a repentant way to a man who seems to be above mortals. But the movie is damaged by the absence of art, by the monotony of the dialogues, by the perversion of sex and the omnipresence of pointless sex scenes all over.
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A rather pretentious, boring, long and vaguely insightful film.
kaymages28 April 2014
Warning: Spoilers
CONTAINS SPOILERS OF BOTH VOLUME I AND II: I give a 1 to this film to balance if possible the high rating it got in this site. The film was rather pretentious and was at a certain degree a classic example of emptiness trying to present itself as "high art". The parallels of nymphomania with fishing in the first half of the film and with Christianity later where pointless and just to make impressions in my opinion, even insulting or blasphemous in some points i could say. Another thing i found strange was the extreme use of "deep" and "wise" references to mathematical, scientific and philosophical concepts. But it all seemed rather forced, messy, and meaningless. It also failed in my opinion to get deep in the human psyche and explore effectively or at least expose the spherical/ holistic nature of the phenomenon of nymphomania. It was quite single sided and narrow minded as i see it. As for the people that claim it was a deep psychological journey, sorry von Trier fans, but the impression this film gave me is that he is a person with poor and shallow insight on the human being not to say prejudiced. In the end i didn't feel being left with some serious food for thought, intriguing questions or spiritually benefited and more self-aware or with self doubt and criticism. I also had the impression that the film was quite naive in some psychological aspects and delivered a rather childish, unrealistic or idealistic view of the human psyche and reality (yes despite all the cruelty and misery depicted it still gave me that impression). Especially at the depiction of the first years of her life and her maturity to adulthood. The showing of nudity as some said and the sex scenes, where not that extreme and had a reason to be there in some moments, but in others i agree that they where there just for the shake of being, no help to the plot or anything. The exploration of the human perversions and fetishes was rather forced too, like the bdsm chapter, gave me the impression that it was there so that the director could state "look! we have put bdsm too in it" and didn't necessarily deliver the desperate odyssey and degeneration of a tortured soul in a realistically climaxing way. It is also important to mention that this was a humourless movie whatsoever. Every attempt of "humour" was rather too dark, trolling, unintelligent, immature or just provoking. Even the born to be wild song in the train scene. Or the casting of Shia Labeouf, if this had a humorous intention in the first place of course. So no mature and original humour. The acting was a bit sloppy too i think, i especially didn't like much the acting of the old Joe (who is the protagonist for god's shake)at a major part of the film but wasn't impressed by young Joe's either. Another weak point was the excessive use of tiring narration, exposition, a sign of weak writing that cannot deliver it's messages subtly and with ease but rather immoderately throws them at the viewer's face. One of the few things i liked in the film was how we got little secret messages and warnings from the beginning about the final scene, where the old man would try to take advantage of her. Honestly i expected that from the beginning. Some will say that it was another drawback of the film cause it was predictable, linear, unintelligent etc bit i think it was delivered in a nice and well thought way. One of the few well thought things of the film. The answers he gave to her shocking stories, how he always tried to justify her actions but came a bit needy, his body language and acting, even some verbal slip-ups. All came to draw the picture of a perverted, repressed old geezer that was ready to explode any moment now. Even he stated he read everything literature has to give on sex, showing his obsession but impotence to make his urges real. If it was just an asexual philosopher he would have read some things just to have an opinion on love but wouldn't have obsessively and explicitly exhaust all the relevant literature. I liked the depiction of the oppressed man, it was more effective than the nymphomaniac's unfortunately. I liked the antithesis of the two main protagonists. The insatiable one that fully gave in in her passion and the "ascetic monk type" that fully repressed it for a life. The one ended up repenting and the other dying for letting his passion feed inside him for all these years. They weren't so different in that sense that's why they came to all these distorted conclusions about love and life, each one by his perspective. Even that "catchy" phrase on love was talking about sinful destructive passion of egoism than love, but they never lived true love so they couldn't have a valid opinion on it. There where also practical mistakes in the film like plot holes, logical inconsistencies, unnatural time loops etc. but i don't want to waste time on these, let other commenters exploit these. For example she went to medical school and did a gyno exam in the beginning? how? was she on her medical specialty? no. she was just a sophomore where they just open corpses and such, they don't do gyno exams. (except if things are different in england and i'm mistaken). The p girl chapter near the end i found it rather bizarre, unrealistic, not making much sense and just being there to make more shocking impressions or hopelessly try to save something that seemed doomed already. So in conclusion four hours are far too much for a film that has no much to offer you (i include volume 2 too). But if you are so curious arm yourselves with patience and watch it.
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Look how shocking I am!
estreet-eva6 October 2014
Von Trier foists more hard-to-watch tarted-up porn in the guise of an art film on the unsuspecting (but at this point "fool-me-twice" movie-going populace). Provocation and desperate plea for attention sit on either side of a 50 shades of gray area and largely Von Trier tends to lean more towards the "hey you guys, look at me" part of the continuum. In some more tawdry part of Europe shot through a grimy lens, our anti-heroine Joe somehow manages to seduce 10 men a night while never saying a word or showing the least sign of anything beyond passivity. Does CraigsList really work that well? Beyond being pallid and boring, Joe's purpose in the movie is largely to recite Lars' personal fantasies. Stellan Skarsgard is there to listen and to bring a false sense that anything highbrow is happening by referencing fly fishing, classical musical (the go-to whenever you need to class up some piece of filth). A whole lot of other men are there as objects. Uma Thurman is there to chew the scenery through a wildly unrealistic non-confrontation with her cheating husband and our titular hero. In short, do something better with your time.
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"When we are, death has not come. When death has come, we are not."
Bored_Dragon23 January 2019
Nymphomaniac (2013) [Director's Cut]

"Nymphomaniac" is the final part of Lars von Trier's "Trilogy of Depression", after the "Antichrist" (2009), which was to me inexplicably dull and unjustified morbid, and "Melancholy" (2011), which I have not yet come to see. Originally, "Nymphomaniac" was conceived as a single film but, due to its inhumane length, in the theatrical release, it was divided into two two-hour films. I am watching the director's cut, which lasts five and a half hours.

The first film begins with a scene in which an older man encounters a beaten woman lying on the street. After she refuses an ambulance and the police, he takes her to his apartment and places her in bed. Then he sits down next to her and she tells him her whole life, the life of a nymphomaniac. Occasionally he interrupts her with interesting comments on various topics, such as philosophy, nature, music, literature, mathematics and even fishing, but all these digressions are directly or metaphorically related to the main subject of the film and represent life philosophies that will lead you to thinking and self-analysis, especially if in some of them you recognize yourself.

The film is full of explicit pornography, but this time it is not there just to shock and cause controversy, but it greatly enhances the artistic power of film and contributes to the credibility and the dramatic nature of the story. The sex scenes are not simulated, they are genuine pornography, but they were shot by porn actors and subsequently edited together with the bodies of the main actors. The film is fantastically shot and directed, and drama and pornographic scenes alternate in perfect harmony. The atmosphere is hypnotically dark and depressing, additionally empowered with an interesting selection of music, which ranges from industrial metal band Rammstein, through rock classics, to Bach's organ compositions. Although the movie is very slow and long, my attention has not been weakened for a moment.

In all three films of the "Trilogy of Depression", Charlotte Gainsbourg plays the main role, but as the first part of the "Nymphomaniac" takes us through her childhood and girlhood, in the main role we see Stacy Martin, who, although not particularly beautiful, is extremely cute and sexual, and in every way a sight for sore eyes in comparison with Charlotte. Charlotte's rescuer is played by Stellan Skarsgård, who appears in a total of seven von Trier's films. There is also Christian Slater in the role of Nymphomaniac's father, as well as Uma Thurman, who gave perhaps the best performance in her career. Stacy, Charlotte, and Stellan topped their roles, but in her relatively short scene, Uma Thurman completely overshadowed them. Her scene is totally over the top, but still somehow realistic and believable. This somewhat relates to the film in its entirety, but Uma's scene is one of the most powerful I've ever seen. Ruthlessly awkward, strongly emotional and definitely unforgettable. Uma deserved an Oscar big as the Statue of Liberty.

There's still three hours of the second movie left for me to make a final judgment, but for now, this is a pure ten.

Seligman: "Well, I divide humanity into two groups: the people who cut the nails on the left hand first, and the people who cut the nails of the right hand first. My theory is that the people who cut the nails of the left hand first they're more light-hearted. They have a tendency to enjoy life more, because they go straight for the easiest task, and save the difficulties for later. So, what do you do?" Joe: "Always the left hand first. I don't think there's a choice. Go for the pleasure first, always. And then when you've done the left hand, only the right hand remains. That's the easiest one left." Seligman: "I never thought of it like that. Well, you're never too old. Never too old to learn."

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coljam2112 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Ever heard the saying less is more? Well this uninspired director thought the opposite. In his opinion more is more. The movie is bland, the direction is bland and the story line is bland so he decided to stuff a ton of scenes which depict sexual intercourse and fellatio in a desperate attempt to try to draw people in. Dude we don't need to see a penis enter a vagina to know that a couple is having sex, that's what the imagination is for. All this graphic and gratuitous smut added a layer of grime to the lackluster movie that I couldn't shake off.

The title of film is nymphomaniac, every adult knows what that means so there was no need to show the lead getting railed by a different man every 3 minutes (that's what porn is for). The director took things a little too literally. I'm surprised Shia LaBeouf took part in this travesty. And that scene with Christian Slater soiling himself on the hospital bed was something that could have been left to the imagination. We did not need to see his butt being cleaned and wiped by a nurse. Seriously!
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A Wild Epic Journey Into Hell.
peacecreep7 March 2014
All the one star reviews on this website that are calling the film a "porn documentary" are obviously written by a group of religious nuts offended by intellectualism and sexuality. Ignore them.

Von Trier has crafted what may be his magnum opus. He goes further into his often explored themes of suffering, femininity and the breaking of social norms. Indeed, this may be one of the most intense inquisitions into the female mind ever put to film. And it has a refreshingly feminist, sex positive tonal undercurrent. The drama really gets going in the second volume which I enjoyed much more than the first. Incredible acting from all involved but Jamie Bell, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Uma Thurman especially. For anyone cultured there is nothing outrageous or controversial here, just a solid thought provoking film from a master of the art form.
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Psychology, Not Sex
loveandthunderstorms8 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I rarely write IMDb movie reviews but I felt compelled to do so with Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac Part I after seeing the countless reviews and message board posts proclaiming this film to be "porn". This film is graphic but it is not porn. I would say that anyone who has ever suffered emotionally, struggled with apathy and/or resigned themselves to risky behaviors as a result of their emotional struggles will find a deeper understanding of this film, elevating it far beyond pornography. This is a review examining the story and psychology of the film, rather than a focal point on graphic sex. To focus only on its graphic nature would be to miss the point of the film entirely.

Nymphomaniac Parts I and II comprise the third act of Von Trier's "Depression Trilogy". The other two films being Melancholia and Antichrist. This "trilogy" came about as a result of his own experience with a major depressive episode and the psychological insights he gained of the depressed psyche. Nymphomania (or excessive sexual drive) is a legitimate psychological disorder that is recognized by the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) of the World Health Organization. Sufferers are often apathetic, their behaviors reckless and impetuous with little regard for consequences. The film begins with the protagonist Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), beaten and abandoned in a rainy alley where she is found and subsequently taken in by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) after refusing medical help. Seligman is a kind man who offers her food, clean clothes and a place to rest. They begin a conversation and Joe begins to tell Seligman her story, beginning with her childhood. Their dialogue is interspersed with flashback scenes of a young Joe (Stacy Martin), following her from childhood to young adulthood.

I'll cut to the chase. Much has been made of the nudity and graphic sex in this film. Is it necessary? Yes, I believe it to be. Joe's mix of self hatred and indifference are conveyed in her many emotionless encounters with various men. The encounters are straightforward and at times, mechanical. One can easily deduce that these are not encounters of passion but rather, compulsiveness. This is not a film that aims to portray Joe as a victim, nor the men as predators (and vice versa). That would be far below Von Trier's abilities as a writer/director and too simple of a concept for a character as tumultuous as Joe. Rather, I feel he aims to bring us into the life and psyche of Joe, illustrate the desperation, compulsivity and dispassionate nature that began dominating Joe's life from a very early age. Compulsive hypersexual behaviors actually have very little to do with the sex itself, so some of the usual dynamics of sexual relations between two people (joy, jealousy, euphoria, power struggles, etc.) do not come into play here. At least, not for Joe anyway.

Despite such a bleak interpretation of sex in this woman's life, the material is handled with care. Some scenes are extremely graphic and shocking in its content and intent but the way in which it's handled contains a certain level of sensitivity. Joe is reckless and callous but Von Trier doesn't shame her in his interpretation. That's not to say that things do not get intense later on in Part II.

I found the film to be beautifully shot, the dialogue well written, almost poetic at times. Gainsbourg and Skarsgard are mesmerizing in their scenes together and Stacy Martin gives a solid and subtle performance as the young Joe. I was not pleased with the casting of Shia LaBeouf as Joe's first sexual encounter and Christian Slater as Joe's father. Neither of them were very good at affecting a British accent, nor did they transform at all in their prospective roles. I merely saw them both doing what they normally do, just dialed down a little bit so as not to disrupt the flow of the film. Unfortunately, any scene involving either one of them completely took me out of the film. Despite this, I still found myself very affected by the film overall. By the time I had neared the end, the final scene that held so much promise of hope and emotional connection for Joe was rendered heartbreaking with her exclamation that she couldn't "feel anything". I found this moment to be especially wrenching. After watching Joe naively explore her compulsions, one could feel a slight amount of tension building and more than once, I wondered, "the other shoe has to fall at some point". With Joe's pain filled cries of "I can't feel anything" (her first display of intense emotion), one senses that this is the point at which things take a sad and dark turn and a perfect point to end Part I before embarking on the consequences and even darker and more disturbing elements contained in Part II.

There are those that will continue to tout this film as "pornography". I suppose the best analogy I have for those who just can't see past the graphic sex would be to compare Joe's sexual compulsions with the compulsions of a drug addict, one difference being that drug addiction is a widely seen, accepted, understood, discussed and examined issue. Hypersexual disorders and behaviors are not, unfortunately. However, being able to identify with certain behaviors at the exclusion of others would be a rather narrow minded approach. How many of you have had a bad day, been fired, been broken up with and decided to go out and get rip roaring drunk, incredibly high or rebound with a stranger in order to deal with the disappointment? You know better, you know it isn't the best idea, you know there will be consequences but you do it anyway. Now imagine the same scenario except there's no inner monologue, no weighing of options. You do it because you seemingly have no choice.
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If all you saw in this movie was sex, I pity you.
locasuscelli10 April 2017
Warning: Spoilers
So many people wrote how "disturbed" they were by "this shitty sex movie". I divide them into two groups:

1. First group decided to watch the film because they love sex, porn, and the title "Nymphomaniac" sure sounds like their kind of thing. Then they went to cinema (or Internet), watched it, and were disappointed because "they had to listen to a lot of boring dialogues before there was a sex scene" (to which they could masturbate to if they were alone). Then when a sex scene would finally come, it wasn't as exciting as it "should have been". So they were disturbed at how much this movie didn't fulfill their expectations.

And they are right, it didn't. Because it's not a shitty, cheap movie, meant to get them turned on. As unbelievable as it sounds to them, the purpose of both the film and the sex scenes go much deeper. And if only they had bothered to pay a little more attention to the "boring dialogue", perhaps they would have noticed that the meaning of the movie - and the real story - goes on in that conversation. And the sex scenes were not as sexy as they "should have been", according to them, because it's not about turning people on. It's a film for you brain, not your genitals. And that is precisely why people from the group one were disappointed. Good.

2. The second group are the people who were "disturbed" because there were too many explicit sex scenes. I have nothing to say about this except: Are you serious??? Have you looked up the definition of the word "nymphomaniac" before you decided to watch it? And again, they missed the purpose because for some reason unknown to me, they were too focused on the "filthy" sex scenes in the film named ~Nymphomaniac~ that they missed to actually watch it.

The point is: If you focus on the ~sex~, you won't like this movie, nor get it. Therefore, if you want a cheap turn on, just go watch porn, and let artists like Lars take sex to a different level, a little above the primitive urge.

Because the reason Joe was "a horny bitch" is a little different than yours.
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Are you saying in 2019 and internet era this is ''shocking''?
ivanas1412 November 2019
I have no doubt that artsy-fartsy crowd will find enough mascohist excitement in this deranged film - from "controversy" and "shock" explicit scenes to philosophizing on the presented ideas. I have to say this is (another) director's prank on audience and infantile black comedy. Actors (except mr. Skarsgard) are terribly annoying, from Gainsbourg (mediocre actress with famous name) to LaBeouf and Slater, lol!
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Bold, Thoughtful and Explicit
freemantle_uk1 March 2014
As you would expect from the controversial Lars von Trier and a film called Nymphomaniac, you know in advance that we are not getting a shy, conservative affair and von Trier does not disappoint. The infamous director manages to craft a two-part film which fans of art-house cinema will be salivating from the mouth over. In a ubiquitous British town, Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) finds Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) unconscious in an alley way. Seligman takes Joe back to his home where Joe tells him she is a bad person and tells him her story from her childhood, to young adulthood (Stacy Martin), to present day, reflecting on her sexual experiences and major relationships, while the intelligential Seligman and Older Joe philosophising and interpreting her actions. Von Trier does not hold back from showing various sexual activity and Joe's descent into sexual violence, as she looks for more extreme ways to get a thrill as her behaviour and needs take a physical, mental and social toll on Joe. Nymphomaniac is unflinching with its sex scenes, Joe getting hit hard during her sadomasochist sessions and showing of male and female genitalia of all shapes and sizes, including wince inducting moments when showing the harm on Joe's private parts go through. Throughout the film we see Joe's sexual journey, from her fascination as a child to her pleasure herself and seek fulfilment. There are many different aspects of Joe's sexuality during Nymphomaniac, using sex as an escape when her father (Christian Salter) and the indifferent on face when she competes with her friend to seduce as many men as possible during a train journey. Von Trier explores many of the destructive aspects of being a sex addict, destroying friendships, being unable to form any relationships with partners and family, struggle to have emotional attachments and the impact that Joe's actions has on others. Joe is a character who rejects the idea of love and romance and leads to the question, does Joe reject it because of her upbringing, her addiction makes her unable to love or because is it because of her inability to loves makes her a sex addict? The discussions between Older Joe and Seligman are a framing device and allow von Trier to explore the philosophical parts of the story. But this is when von Trier spells out his views and meanings of the film. Both Older Joe and Seligman are used discuss to complex mathematical theorems, religious iconography, the meaning of words and morality. But to be fair, some of the elements do require specific knowledge so some explanation was needed. Nymphomaniac's cast features von Trier regulars, established talent like Jamie Bell and Uma Thurman and new actors with Stacy Martin, Sophie Kennedy Clark and Mia Goth. The performances range from good to excellent and the new young actresses do show real talent, as they give fantastic performances. The let down in the cast is Shia LaBeouf. It is easy to mock LaBeouf because of his recent off screen antics, but his performance was hampered when you can play guess the accent. My own personal guesses were Scottish, Irish, New Zealander and South African and other people's guesses ranged from Cockney, Australian and Scandinavian. Von Trier and his cinematographer Manuel Alberto Claro were able to combine both a grim, kitchen sink realistic aesthetic, while also making sure von Trier adds artistic flourishes, as he uses graphics, text and cross cutting to various images. Despite some of the heavy themes and imagery, von Trier made sure moments dark humour and wit to help lighten the mood and prevent Nymphomaniac from being too depressing as an experience. Nymphomaniac is an interesting, thoughtful film that is more than about controversy and titillation. Filled with a mostly excellent cast, Nymphomaniac should please fans of von Trier and art-house cinema.
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Wondering if you should watch this film?
Anon_A_Mouse18 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Don't. Your time is far too valuable.

This film features unsimulated sex of pornographic actors digitally edited onto the parts of the real actors. So if you're looking for smut, you should instead watch a production from the "Silicone Valley" (or wherever it is the porn industry heads out of now). At least you won't have to labor through pretentious dialogue just to see some real action. It gets painful--the dialogue. There's a part in the movie where Skarsgard's character tries to rationalize the protagonist's nymphomania via the Fibonacci sequence. It really doesn't add anything meaningful to the plot, it's just von Trier trying to convince you that he went to college. No, I'm only half kidding. Read the spoiler.

*SPOILER* Assuming you don't heed my warning, and still decide to waste your time watching this film, then I won't won't give away too much, but Skarsgard's dialogue is supposed to build you up so you can be shocked by the, like, totally ironic ending of Vol. II...As if you couldn't see that coming, or as if you'll even care at that point. Just be glad it's over so you can go back to watching real porn ;) *END OF SPOILER*

And if you're looking for a film that debases contemporaries and challenges social taboos, well...I guess you can say this film does that, or at least attempts to. It's all pretty shallow, though, and really comes off as an excuse to feature unsimulated sex in a movie full of renowned actors. I would not feel so strongly about this if the actors' performances weren't so laughable. I might have even forgiven von Trier if the characters were redeeming or at least believable. For start, LaBeouf's character speaks with an accent not of this world. And Slater's performance as the aged father is comparable to a parody straight out of SNL. Without giving away spoilers, I'll just say I couldn't find one character I could sympathize/empathize with, because they were either too dull, too deplorable, or too comical.

Want to see a real art film? Un Chien Andalou, because this isn't art. And from a contemporary film's standpoint, there's really nothing to justify the extremes it has to reach in order to tell its story.

Don't do it. Or do it, I don't care. I did my good deed for the day.
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What Happened, Lars?
dsaillant8117 December 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Nymphomaniac Parts I and II are collectively the final installments of Lars von Trier's "Depression Trilogy," preceded by Antichrist ( a film that frequently makes lists of the top 10 most disturbing films ever) and Melancholia (one of very few films that has shocked and saddened me to the core). Considering the artistic mastery of Antichrist and Melancholia, it shocks me that Nymphomaniac comes off as nothing more than a sloppy, messy attempt at turning nymphomania into some sort of deep philosophical head trip.

The basic plot of the film revolves around Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourgh), who tells her life story to Stellan Skarsgard's character as it pertains to her unhealthy obsession with sex. The film attempts to draw some deep parallels and connections between Gainsbourgh's story and Skarsgard's love of fishing, but fails miserably. The metaphors are horrifically clunky, the dialogue is weak, the acting is average to mediocre (especially from this cast that made me cry in the previous two films), and the editing is hideous and nonsensical.

Lars von Trier is one of my favorite directors ever, so it shocks me that this film is so poorly put together. It's awkward, boring, overly long porn with a story and performances only marginally better than the X-rated smut you might find on PornHub. 3/10, and I'm being generous.
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Truly repulsive...Just my opinion.
FromTheInside1925 March 2014
I really am at a loss for words on how to describe how awful and repulsive this film was. I have seen some of Triers other work just out of curiosity. Yeah, he does push the boundaries and takes big extremes in his films which I am not that big of a fan of. Still, I take the time to watch a film, before I criticize. I gave this film a chance. Honestly, I think this is his wort film.

I am not going to into details of the story and plot as it would take too long and this movie doesn't deserve a complete breakdown review, not to mention, it isn't worth my time more than what I am going to type.

To me I saw nothing artistic, I saw nothing funny, it wasn't deep or meaningful in any way. All I got out of it was a grotesque pornographic punch in the face. I believe the plot to be weak. Some of the acting and performances were pretty good and that is all it has going for it.

I am open minded to lots of things and accept lots of things, but this is not one of them. On top of it all, it's just too damn long. It gets so drawn out. Even the sex scenes in the film were a yawn fest not to mention made me feel unclean. They didn't feel erotic or artistic, or anything for that matter. However, I did not walk out on this film as I wanted to see it in its entirety. The film overall made me feel dirty, and unclean. All I got out of it was a glorified porn, with a weak story and average acting if not borderline sub-par for most of the cast.

This movie made me feel dirty despite some of the good acting moments and even a few parts in the story. For the most part, 98% crap cannot make up for the 2% of good that I found in this film. Figuratively speaking of course.

I am not saying don't see it. I would recommend you to not, but it is up to you to decide. It is not my place to tell someone what they can and cannot do or watch what they like. Make the choice for yourself. Take this review as a recommendation, I would advise against seeing it. But ultimately the choice is yours. Make your own opinion. My opinion should never dictate any readers decision.
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Disgusting movie
rhoda_s_girl31 October 2019
This is a disgusting movie that's only purpose was to fulfill the directors misguided, gross, disgusting fantasies. Not only does it abuse women, but it shows horrible things with no consequences. Not only do people get defiled, raped, beaten, and peed on but has no sympathetic characters. Why is it that in his movies he almost always has his females characters hurt themselves??? It's like he hates women- and people actually like this gross disturbing sadism??? Feel ashamed of all the actors/actresses who are in this- obviously there have no morales and will sell their soul to the devil. He should be locked up in jail instead of celebrated- disgusting how people actually liked this...🤢🤢🤢
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The film is both transparent and impenetrable and none of the actors overcome the weak script
Likes_Ninjas9024 March 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Some people believe Danish filmmaker Lars von Trier is a fascinating and innovative auteur. His detractors, including myself, view him as an aimless provocateur and an attention-seeking misogynist. He treats film as a form of personal therapy. It is a stream of consciousness onto which he imposes his anguished feelings. His family history accounts for his temperamental relationships with actresses and representation of women. On his mother's deathbed, she told him she had an affair with a man who was his real father. She wanted to give him the creative genes his adopted father could not provide. Lars von Trier has never forgiven her. In Antichrist and Melancholia (which both featured Charlotte Gainsbourg), women were viewed as destructive, violent or mad. In Dancer in the Dark, Icelandic singer Bjork played a mother who was going blind. She vowed never to make another film and said of the director: "He needs a female to provide his work soul. And he envies them and hates them for it. So he has to destroy them during the filming." There are actresses that enjoy working with the director though. Nymphomaniac is his third film with Gainsbourg. She believes in his self-expression. Yet neither of the two volumes dispel Lars von Trier's glaring issues as a person or filmmaker.

The script he has written can be viewed in two ways, either as a metaphor for himself being weary of falling in love, or to make things more Freudian, an unflattering view of his mother. It begins with Joe (Gainsbourg) lying in the street, beaten, until she is found and tended to by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard). He wants to know why she sees herself as a terrible person so she recounts her entire sexual history to him. She recalls how she merely wanted sex and not to fall in love. Yet after her first sexual encounter at age fifteen with Jerome (Shia LaBeouf) her feelings for him became irrepressible, particularly in their later lives. She also undertakes various sexual experiments involving different men and even a teenage girl. From the moment Lars von Trier announced at the infamous Melancholia press conference in Cannes that he was making a pornographic film, it should have been apparent that this would be an exercise in "cringe cinema". The writing isn't strong enough to justify the explicitness of the sexual material. Spread over two films, totalling four hours in length, it is a poorly realised narrative, often disjointed and incoherent. It relies too heavily on visibly weak story constructs and coincidences and tries to paper over them by being self-referential. The framing device used to introduce us to the different chapters is highly contrived, unless you believe someone would recollect their entire life to a stranger.

The episodes that follow Joe's introduction range from being offensive to implausible. Some are surprisingly funny too but are the laughs intentional? The chapter I particularly disliked was when Joe recalls her teenage days. A young Joe (dully played by newcomer Stacy Martin) and her friend dress up in what they call "f*** me clothes" and have a contest on a train to see how many men they can seduce for a bag of sweets. It reflects how inaccurately Lars von Trier observes young behaviour and how denigrating he is to women by valuing shock tactics over authenticity. It is also frustrating that on top of silly dialogue ("You can't tame a lion while blowing your children's nose"), there are long-winded, pretentious discourses between the episodes referencing shaman mythology (brush up on what an Ash tree means). Most of the second film drags, dwelling on some extremely disturbing material involving sadomasochism and also comments about paedophilia. It feels like von Trier is caught in a game of one-upmanship with himself to make the film edgy rather than logical. I found a lot of the second volume very difficult to sit through. When contrasted with the stunning social realism and accessible philosophy of Blue is the Warmest Colour, which also covered young sexuality, Nymphomaniac is comparatively a juvenile afterthought.

The long running time hasn't allowed enough time to refine the poor stylistic choices. Unsurprisingly, the sex has received the most attention. Both male and female genitalia are viewed up close using hand-held cameras and without cutting away. Real pornographic actors were filmed having actually sex and had their bottom half of their bodies were superimposed onto the professional actors, who simulated the intercourse. Although the starkness is uncomfortable to watch, Lars von Trier isn't taking it seriously. The film is overloaded with immature visual gimmicks. The phallus isn't shown in Hollywood films so he includes an entire montage of them. An on screen score is also superimposed onto the screen while two characters are having sex. What's his point? As intercourse is verbally compared to everything from classical musical, to fishing and electronic doors, visual intercuts unnecessarily restate the lines of dialogue. The only purpose is to offset the film's aesthetic banality. The visuals have none of Melancholia's vibrancy. The colours are generally bland to impose an idea of Joe's emotional coldness and detachment from relationships. The soundtrack choices are painfully obvious, sometimes hilariously so, like using "Born to be Wild" and "Burning down the House", while heavy metal music from Rammstein is inappropriately pasted over scenes. True to this shabbiness, the film is both transparent and impenetrable and none of the actors overcome the weak script. The director knows what is going on but only to the benefit of one person.
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Worst Adult Movie Ever!.
tommy-158-70816314 November 2014
Lars Von Trier has made a lot of publicity and excessive advertisement of an adult documentary movie called Nymphomaniac. His intention was to make a porno movie and a movie with pornographic sex shots. He shot a very long movie .First it was approximately 4 hours of porno,but then he cut the movie and changed it completely into Drama!!. That is funny and so strange,but this is true.

Nymphomaniac is an adult boring movie documentary which focuses on a horny girl who adores sex. The name of the girl is Joe. She explicitly tells her sexual fantasies and imaginations to an old man called Seligman and how she became addicted to sex and nymphomania. Honestly when I saw the movie I felt so bored and kept looking at my watch and could not wait to leave the cinema because of this bad if not worst movie!.
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