It has got to be a bitch when a woman, at her sexual peak, loses the ability to reach orgasm. More so when that same someone is a self-confessed nympho, as is the protagonist in Lars Von Trier’s two part film Nymph()maniac Director’s Cut, out now on DVD & Blu Ray. Meet Joe (yes, it is a ‘She’), who’s mantra is ‘Fill all my holes.” No, this is not a Carry On film although certainly there is humour in abundance. Quite simply, there is no room for subtlety here.
By now you should be getting a clear picture about what these two films are about, if the title was not already a humdinger of a giveaway. Well, actually, like a spotty teenage boy with his first fumble behind the proverbial bike shed on a clear run, we have rushed straight ahead to the premise of Volume II, without the foreplay, so let us backup a bit.
Nymph()maniac tells the story of Joe (Stacy Martin), from birth to the age of 50, narrated by Charlotte Gainsbourg as an older version of our lead character. It opens (gosh, there are many a double entendre to be had here) with Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) a lonely old bachelor who discovers Joe (Gainsbourg) semi-conscious and lying battered and bruised in an alley close to his flat. She insists that he does not call for an ambulance or the police, but agrees to come with him to his apartment to get cleaned up. This sweet mild-mannered gentleman compels her to have verbal diahorrhea about her debauched lifestyle. She reveals sexual antics in graphic detail. He, in contrast, responds by comparing her exploits to the likes of fly-fishing, no less. However, as much as these two characters appear to be quite different on the surface, it is soon apparent that they are tied together by their loneliness. Therein lies the undercurrent of the film.
Her tale lasts over two films, and it is at the close of Volume I when our protagonist reaches her peak of despair. She cannot be sated. The first scene of the second film rings in with the familiar ‘Fill all my holes.” By this time, her main squeeze Jerôme, played by Shia LaBeouf, has given it a good go including the ‘traditional’ vaginal penetration and fingers in the mouth but all seemingly not doing the trick. Bless him, he’s a go-er but by the time they bonk their way into Volume II, even her exhausted lover has to admit defeat. She pleads with him again, ‘Fill all my holes”. “I can’t.” he despairs. It dawns on him, what we already know. For Joe, there cannot be true fulfilment.
Cited as the most controversial film of 2014, reviews have spanned from praise as the best of Von Trier’s work, to date, to being reviled as being too explicit and self-indulgent. This is Von Trier, director of Breaking Waves and Antichrist. A man with the word ‘Fuck’ tattooed across his knuckles. And let us not forget when he was unceremoniously thrown out of Cannes film festival press conference for his Hitler faux pax, when he proffers up the virtue of being “anti-Zionist, not anti-Semitic”. We rightfully expect his films to be explicit. Of course it is self-indulgent. Who would want the maverick director any other way? The haters should step out of the Victorian-age mentality and adopt a new take of the film. It is nothing more than a tongue-in-cheek, sex epic that is both clever and filled with devilishly witty. Best of all, he is playing with us all.
Nymph()maniac Volume I & II is a mere five and a half hour long director’s cut and is now released as a double disc DVD & Blu Ray.