As almost all previous von Trier’s works, “Nymphomaniac” requires the right mood and the right moment to be watched, Vol. I tells the story of the enigmatic Seligman, who lives his solitary life in a monk style’s apartment in a suburban area, it is unclear and perhaps not important where the story takes places. One snowy night he finds a woman lying on the street; she’s been beaten up and left bleeding. He offers help and hospitality and brings her to his apartment, where in a very long conversation, she will tell him her entire story up to this moment. Her name is Joe and she is a nymphomaniac. Seligman is a good listener and he compares and analyses Joe’s past events and experiences with religion, philosophy, mathematic, organ music and fly fishing. Told in eight chapters (5 in Vol. I and 3 in Vol. II), Nymphomaniac is a clever and fascinating tale of a woman’s addiction, von Trier takes his time in telling each particular of the story and it remarks them with visual effect of split screens, numbers and words. The conversation all happens into Seligman’s apartment, only during Joe’s anecdotes the viewer is allowed to explore the different scenarios, it features a great scene with Uma Thurman as Mrs. H and a very interesting role of Christian Slater as Joe’s father, who probably shows the best performance of his entire career. The first part of the film it’s mainly based on Joe’s childhood and adulthood and it prepares the viewer to Vol. II, it begins with several minutes of silence and then with a violent track by Rammstein, which it’s also played when the first part is over, at this point watching Vol. II become a necessity but perhaps not to everyone.
This is the part where we get to know more about the character of Seligman and it is also the part where the movie goes stronger and darker. Several scenes are painful to watch but somehow essential to display the raw nature of the character of Joe; Nymphomaniac is a very clever movie that probably lots of people will hate it and find it boring, but this is nothing new in von Trier’s cinema, it is absolutely undeniable that the visual aspect of this film is raw, strong, often hard to watch but above all beautiful and masterfully filmed by a guy who definitely knows what he’s doing behind the camera. This is not for the casual viewer and will never be a movie for everyone but overall it’s a long and fascinating journey into a dark addiction, despite the frequent nudity and unsimulated sex scenes, this film is never erotic, what we see it’s brutal and nasty but also essential and faithful to the chapters previously told. It features some memorable moments, as the “segment” with K and some disturbing scenes, maybe the ending is a bit too predictable and not something that everyone will agree with. This film concludes the director’s Trilogy of Depression (Antichrist, Melancholia, Nymphomanic), there is also an homage to Antichrist in this second part; the audience will be as usually split, some will be satisfy while other will be upset, but this is the nature of the director, if you are familiar with his previous works, then you already know what we are talking about. Nymphomaniac it may be not as shocking as Antichrist, it’s a tough and long film and definitely not an easy one, but it is without a doubt a great experience, the story is fascinating, painful and not easy to forget. Take it or leave it.