I finally got a chance to see Lars von Trier’s much talked about epic boning saga of a woman who is recounting her entire sexual life to a complete stranger who found her bruised up and unconscious on the street. In an effort to make myself seem less pervy, I didn’t watch the director’s cut, which apparently features real sex and visible dongs going in and out of some strange. But this version still had plenty of rubber dicks and boobies. BUT IT’S A REAL FILM! UMA THURMAN IS IN IT! DON’T JUDGE ME!
Volume I starts with the protagonist (Joe, a lady) explaining her early childho- WHOA, CHRISTIAN SLATER IS IN THIS MOVIE. Sorry, I’m never not going to announce that in all caps. Anyway, she starts talking about her early education and her interest in sexuality. Quickly she progresses to her teen years and the story of how she lost her virginity to Shia Lebeouf (Ewww). As expected, he’s disappointing in bed, and even more so, his acting is awful. It is kind of interesting how each chapter is kind of like a short film in itself, with her teenage saga being told as a direct equivalent to fly fishing. So, she ends up using her power as a woman to seduce men for her own satisfaction, even if it is to the detriment of the dudes. But it was an amusing story with something of a punchline at the end, if you can call it that.
In the next chapter, Joe and her friends form a club where they talk about they sexual experiences, but she gets upset when the girls start talking about love getting involved. So, she looks for a job, and awwwww man, Shia Lebeouf is back… But awwww yeah, she’s choosing not to bang him a second time. So this causes some frustration at the workplace, because he’s her boss, and such. But she sleeps with every other guy in the office, and she makes Lebeouf look foolish over a parking space. OFFICE POLITICS, AMIRITE? Also, now her sexual experience is being equated to eating a cake. Eventually, he becomes the cake that got away. Wait, isn’t he more like a fish that got away? But that was the last chapter. He’s a cake that fell into the river? A fish cake? Now she’s equating her vagina to automated sliding doors. Aaaaaaaand cue montage of penis photos. MOVING ON.
Next she finally faces some consequences for her actions, as a wife of one of the men she sleeps around with confronts her in a long, drawn out segment. THE CATCH? It didn’t affect Joe at all when it was over. “You can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs.” Now her sexual reputation is equated to breakfast. At least it taught her a lesson about loneliness. Thank god a lesson was finally learned! This was followed by a black and white segment about her father in the hospital. This took quite the depressing turn. But, I would expect nothing less at this point. I mean, it is a von Trier movie.
From here, the rest of Volume I is spent showing her *need* to have sex in order to cope with her grief and depression, which involves a lot of crying after sex, and equating her multiple partners to different chords of an organ song. And caged zoo animals? I… I guess… Awwwww man, the last few minutes has a close up shot of Shia Lebeouf licking a nipple. Not cool, movie. It ends with her getting boned and saying outloud, “I can’t feel anything.” I think we’re all with you there on the lack of feeling, Joe.
*And here’s the point where I eat macaroni and cheese and watch an episode of The Simpsons, because I’d like to return to smiling for a few minutes. No, the macaroni isn’t representative of a dark, repressed childhood moment of sexual humiliation. STOP THAT. YOU STOP THAT RIGHT NOW.*
Volume II opens up with some surreal scene involving little girl Joe getting levitated with the Virgin Mary and the whore of Babylon by her side and… I just don’t know, that was a weird way to start the next volume. Looks like Joe just called out the stranger she’s telling the story to for getting more excited about mathematics than her sex stories. It’s then revealed that he’s an asexual virgin, and he’s the best (most pure) judge for deciding whether Joe is a bad person for her lifetime of whoring. THE PLOT THICKENS?
CUE NEXT SCENE. Joe is being bet money that she can’t put a spoon up her hoo-haa at a restaurant. She proceeds to put like 7 spoons up there. I SEE SHE’S PLAYED MUFFY/SPOONY BEFORE.
I’ll just go ahead and skip over discussing how she ended up in a hotel room with two arguing African dudes, rest assured there’s plenty of dick shots, but oh yeah, she got pregnant with Shia Lebeouf the scene before that. Now she has a Lebaby. Aaaaaaaaaaaand fast foward a couple of years and she’s seeing a dude who focuses on pain sex and bondage or something. God damn, she has a weird life. The closest I can compare is that I tried a new flavor of Gatorade the other day. Suffice it to say, Volume II is turning out to be much more boring than Volume I on a pacing and storytelling level. Starting to get depressed over here. It’s pretty much one of the least erotic movies I’ve ever seen about something that’s (hypothetically) supposed to be erotic. VON TRIER’D. Somehow the stranger equates her bondage experience to mountain climbing.
Finally, she is forced to seek professional help, by her employer. I think that’s a good move once you get to the point where the only way you can get off anymore is by getting punched in the face. Ohhhh… She ends up telling off everyone at her group, and… the next scene she’s lighting a car on fire set to “Burning Down the House” by the Talking Heads…? Ooooooooooo… kaaaaaaaaayyyyyy…? I think at this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if a later scene in this movie featured a giant vagina spaceship hovering over Tennessee. I just don’t know. Ohhh no, it’s Willem Dafoe… I don’t think I wanna know where this is going to go… (hey, that all rhymed! RAP RAP RAP. RAPPIDY RAP.)
UHHG. Moving on…
As it turns out, her lifetime of vaginal overuse is causing her intense vagina pain in her later years. She’s once again unsexual. Didn’t we just deal with this same concept an hour ago? Siiiiiiigh. I just watched another thirty minute chunk and have almost nothing to say about it. Getting kinda tired of watching this. Maybe that was the point of the whole project? I do find myself getting depressed in sync with Joe. I don’t think this will be a set of films I ever plan on watching again. Director’s Cut? Holy crap, I forgot this wasn’t even the director’s cut. That thing is probably insane. NOT INTERESTED.
At least it has an ending so stupid that I kind of found it commendable. And as it ironically turns out, Christian Slater was the only person in these movies who wasn’t a depraved sleaze.
To be honest, I spent most of Nymphomaniac looking at the b-roll footage and wondering if I was supposed to interpret them as sexual metaphors? I ASSUME I WAS. “Is that boobs? I bet that’s supposed to mean boobs.” I feel like this is the kind of project that someone could potentially write a 5000 word academic paper about the intricate equivocations of human sexuality in the characters, and make some sort of grand statement about human nature vs nature nature. Or nature nurture? But I’m not the guy to make it. I’m more of the guy who laughed like Butthead through a bunch of it, at least until it became a depressing mope fest. To be fair; as well-made, well-shot, and well-directed as the films are, they’re also pretty freaking stupid. A set of films that are so desperately begging to be analyzed and looked at on some deeper level that it became laughable on a basic execution level. That’s not to say that the journey wasn’t somewhat entertaining, but it was also kinda smashed together like a 5th grade art project merged at the last minute with Elmer’s glue that hasn’t dried yet. SEE, I CAN EQUATE THINGS TOO.
In conclusion, based on this movie, a lifetime of sexual adventure is kind of like walking through a sliding door to get to a fly fishing tournament on the edge of a mountain with the grand prize being a breakfast cake served to you by a mathematical leopard while an organ rendition of Rammstein plays aggressively in the background.
Nymphomaniac: Volume I – 6.5 out of 10
Nymphomaniac: Volume II – 3.5 out of 10
Nymphomaniac as a whole – (dismissive wanking motion [DON’T READ INTO THAT])