Nymphomaniac Screen 18 articles



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  • [Joe] isn't a character (admittedly, neither is anyone else in either film), but a device that allows the filmmaker to haphazardly stitch together a variety of sexual fantasies, most of which pivot on the pain and degradation of the female at the hands of an embittered male.

  • I've had a night to sleep on this and I'm pretty certain this is my least favourite LVT movie, even though there is clearly stuff "going on" beneath its glossy surface... From the guy who made something as radical as Dogville, this delivers the most trite sexual awakening-based origin story imaginable, like its been un-ironically ripped from the pages of a dimestore romance novella.

  • It makes one think, as my colleague suggested, that if von Trier felt less obligated or imposed upon to explain himself, he might one day resume making visionary work.Nymphomaniac may well be von Trier’s most overtly anxious film, constantly stopping both to question itself and inform its audience of its intentions.

  • _That’s_ daring – making a four-hour epic not just talking about but manifesting one’s own agonized gender ignorance. Unfortunately, von Trier never takes on this touchy idea. He instead seems to find profundity in both Seligman’s meaningless detours and his heroine’s guilelessly compulsive copulating and masochism.

  • In the end, she is the artist. Von Trier is proud of his provocations yet concerned that the audience may too easily indulge him or, pace David Denby, actually become aroused. Indeed, that, in a sense, is the movie’s punchline. Anxious that he will no longer be able to top himself, von Trier is willing to end Nymphomaniac—if not his career—with a cheap stunt meant to rebuke his admirers, as if to prove that he still can.

  • You can safely ignore me on this one, since one of my strongest critical biases is my utter lack of interest in sexual masochism; fully half of Vol. II is devoted to debasement of (to me) the most tedious kind, and by the end of "The Eastern and the Western Church (The Silent Duck)"—easily the longest chapter in the entire two-part film—I'd completely lost interest, never to be regained.

  • Von Trier is the best advertising person in the movie business, and he has come up with a movie that is an ingenious commercial for itself... There’s a lot of sex shown in “Nymphomaniac,” but von Trier’s depiction of sex acts is blandly pneumatic, mechanical, virtually effortless, and filmed as casually and as indifferently as is the rest of the action.

  • Nymphomaniac not only represents a new direction for Lars, but a new level of directness. It’s not just those music cues, or the fact that his beloved male/female dichotomies are so blatantly problematized here... It’s that despite the sexual explicitness... or the blend of light comedy with violence and abuse, von Trier has taken a break from his puckish provocateur persona to make a film that wants very much to let you know where its maker stands on things.

  • Mostly, Nymphomaniac plays like a grand doodle, Von Trier goofing on his own habits, his reputation, and on the conventions of episodic epics. (“I think this is one of your weaker digressions,” Joe amusingly tells Seligman after he redirects the conversation down some side-alley of memory.) ...Nymphomaniac may at best be a digression, but it’s not one of Von Trier’s weaker ones.

  • Nymphomaniac is one von Trier film to which you can’t easily give a thumbs-up—or down—and it’s a dense, labyrinthine undertaking through which you can’t easily find your way. It’s a Dostoevskian sprawl of a creation, at once monstrous and magnificent, infuriating and inspired—von Trier’s most defiant invitation yet to an argument, and an argument, I suspect, that will rage intensely for some time to come.

  • [Joe and Jerôme] meet and remeets with all the subtlety of opera. It’s this self-mockery that stops Nymphomaniac from being overly grim and reminds you of the puppet master behind it all. We’re never far from Von Trier, and both Skarsgård and Gainsbourg appear to offer different versions of the author himself.

  • Nymphomaniac isn’t much of a film, in terms of filmmaking. The disjointed editing seems lazy at worst, arbitrary at best, the plotting is often facile, the dialogue could’ve used a few more drafts; compared to, say, Antichrist – the opening sequence of which gets reprised here – it’s a much less beautiful movie. But this ragged, silly, very personal drama isn’t trying for beauty. What can you say about a film that leads with the line “I discovered my c*** as a two-year-old”? It’s a provocation.

  • The film is not a perfect work and vacillates greatly in quality, particularly in Volume Two, but the successful sequences are so rich in thought-provoking representations of big subjects and so distinctively the work of its singular and taboo-flouting director that it all makes for essential viewing.

  • As damaging and near-traumatic repercussions pile up in response to Joe’s behavior, von Trier manages the dual achievement of simultaneously refusing to reprimand her for her perceived indiscretions and pledging to remain a watchful witness to their troubling side effects. The result is a film that looks not to individual forces as agents of social problems but rather to systemic injustices.

  • It can't be overstated how _perfectly_ paired Gainsbourg and Skarsgård are in the framing story, a crucial piece of which is all the editorial mismatching that... realigns and re-filters the duo's dueling perspectives... Meanwhile, the subtexts churn and roil—magma perpetually on the verge of an eruption that came for me when Gainsbourg channeled free spirit mother Jane Birkin in her Vol. 2end credits cover of "Hey Joe." This might be the finest feature-length argument for "edging" ever made.

  • What’s arguably most compelling about Nymphomaniac is its relentlessly Cartesian organization, a mind/body split that creates all kinds of tension and resonance while steadfastly refusing to integrate its components at a granular level. The impression is of a film as divided against itself as its protagonist—which is of course to say that von Trier knows exactly what he’s doing even as he seems to be throwing up his hands in surrender to the irreconcilable agony of it all.

  • It’s against the overwhelming permanence of this system that Nymphomaniac’s sex-negativity takes root. I’m not sure that Von Trier has an answer for how women can escape patriarchy’s ever-grinding machinations... What remains clear is that he holds up about as little hope for an innate goodness to sexuality as he has previously exhibited for the innate goodness of the human spirit.

  • ++

    Sight & Sound: Michael Brooke
    June 05, 2015 | July 2015 Issue (p. 99, 101)

    Extreme female masochism has long been a key ingredient in von Trier's cinema. But while Nymph()maniac goes much further down this route even than 2009's Antichrist (whose opening it directly quotes and whose self-mutilation it alludes to), it also shows far more genuine interest in getting inside its protagonist's head.

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