Thursday, March 27, 2014

Film Review: Nymph()manic I & II

I'm not exactly sure what I have to say about this movie, actually. In fact, I really wish that I could watch it again because I feel like I just didn't get a good grasp of it; although I just doubt that viewing this film twice is good for my psyche. If you have not heard, Nymphomanic, directed by the great Lars Von Trier, comes in two "volumes" and comes in edited and unedited versions. When I discovered that it was available on demand before it hit theaters, I figured I wouldn't go to the cinema to see them by myself so there was no point in waiting. After some discussions with my friends, I came to the conclusion that it's most likely available on demand pre-theaters in order to get more hits and make more money; for may very well do poorly in theaters because of its controversially graphic content. 

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Nymphomaniac has stayed with me since I watched it, which is not something I'm really happy about. There were some beautiful aspects of the film, such as the juxtaposition of the darkness of Joe's story (the main character Joe, who is a self-proclaimed sex-addict/"nymphomaniac") against the educational recounts of the academic, asexual supporting male-role. The traumatic and negative aspects to the film far outweighed the beautiful, in my point of view. I'm a huge Lars Von Trier fan as you know from my review of Melancholia, but in my opinion this film was unnecessarily vulgar. Antichrist was the first installation in Von Trier's depression trilogy, and shares many similarities with Nymphomaniac. In fact, I think that they were so many similarities in their messages that it felt almost like a copy-cat. Antichrist had already touched on many of the things that I think nymphomaniac was going for, and there was even a couple scenes in Nymphomaniac that I thought were actually clips from Antichrist. 

Nymphomaniac did not need to come in two volumes either. Of course I love the idea of having there be a four-hour long Lars Von Trier movie, but I feel as if it's almost a waste because I'll never be able to see it again. (I wish he had done Melancholia if a two-volume installation instead!) Shia Lebouf is laughable in my opinion. I can't take him seriously, and it's only his own fault. As for Charlotte Gainsbourg, I adore her. I always have. She's a genius and Lars Von Trier and herself work incredibly together. Volume I sets the tone well for the entire film as a young Joe, played by newcomer Stacy Martin, is exploring her sexuality as an adolescent and young adult. She remembers splashing through the wet bathroom floor and recounts the physical sensations that she felt from sliding her groin back and forth on the ground. I mean, it's pretty interesting, because I've heard many girlfriends tell the story of "when I was seven and my sister was six, we did x and we thought it was so cool because it felt amazing!" (You may be thinking about now "who the hell does this girl hang out with?!" But trust me, this is very common in children to touch themselves and not understand exactly what's going on. The difference is that Joe DOES understand to some capacity what she is doing.) But as the film moves forward, her sexcapades become more and more self-destructive and more dangerous. At the end of the first volume she screams while Shia Lebouf's character, Jerome, is inside of her and says, "I can't feel anything anymore!" And that's that! Cut! Screen! And you're left feeling "holy shit, now she's lost all feeling in her vagina! This girl is NUTS!" And then you watch Volume II because you can't NOT KNOW what happens, of course, where it explores the violence that comes about because of the loss of her orgasm that she can no longer obtain during intercourse…. 

It just gets more and more depressing to the point where the redeeming qualities of the film are lost by the end. By the fourth hour I felt like my brain was rotting into a sex-mush (what?). So just don't see it. There's a lesson here, and that lesson is that some movies are just meant to not be seen and unfortunately this is one of them. 

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