Nymphomaniac: controversial, insightful and utterly enthralling

July 8, 2014 9:50 am

An exquisitely shot pornographic montage, Nymphomaniac is the final installment in Lars Von Trier’s aptly named ‘Depression Trilogy.’ It offers us the story of self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who is discovered by mNYMPHOMANIAC-Character-Posterild mannered bachelor Seligman (Stellan Skarsgaard) whilst lying badly beaten in an alleyway. Seligman brings her back to his flat where she recants a life dedicated to a desperate quest for sensation.

It is a film that has been described by many as the very epitome of controversial with its completely raw, unforgiving insight into the life of a sex addict and its seemingly endless array of explicit sex scenes. Shown predominately through a sequence of flashbacks, we see Joe (whose younger self is played by British model Stacy Martin) exalted and broken by the systematic nature of her addiction; her life seemingly devoid of purpose. This is a void which can only be filled by sex.

Baring all the Von Trier hallmarks this is a grotesque and utterly fearless production; the polemic narrative compensated by the masterful visuals and flawless cinematography. It is insightful, yet analytical, giving the viewer an almost clinical perception of sex addiction, emphasised by the various, almost anatomical, shots of human genitalia and with a talented ensemble of well-known faces (including Shia LeBeouf, Jamie Bell and Uma Thurman). Nymphomaniac is a sexual epic, albeit not for the faint hearted.

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