Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Nymphomaniac Vol. I

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! People be fucking in this movie...really fucking!

Nymphomaniac Vol. I – 3 out of 5

Lars von Trier isn’t a director that I usually seek out—and cue the comment about how it’s because I’m not “into art” and only desire to watch “shitty popcorn films.”  As a director, I think Trier has a great eye but his writing isn’t the stuff I find that particularly engaging.  However, I never let past experiences with writers, directors, Subway sandwich artists have much impact on me and I will always gives a writer, director, Subway sandwich artist another shot to wow me with their book, movie, or meatball sub.  I had heard a lot of things about his movie (mostly about how you see penises entering vaginas) and I decided to give it a chance…but, as you can see from the fact that I’m posting this in October after it came out in the summer, I wasn’t really rushing and knocking anything over that got in my way to see it.

Take one wild fucking guess what is happening to
this man.

One day, a man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) finds a woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) bleeding and prone in a back alley. 

"Martha and Thomas Wayne?  Are you down there?"

He helps her and brings her to his place to rest and tend to her wounds.  The woman says her name is Joe and admits to Seligman that she is a nymphomaniac—which, second closely to a maniac on the dance floor, is probably the only maniac you want to meet in your life.  Joe immediately starts to regale Seligman with her sexual exploits and her history.  She talks about when she first discovered her sexuality, losing her virginity to a man named Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf), juggling her love of lust, and even the time that a man destroyed his marriage to be with her.

"It's strange but as your story continues, my pants seem to shrink more and more..."

Like everyone else on the internet, I heard about how this movie shows some real fucking going on (although, porn star body doubles and stunt cocks were used for this aspect of the film) and this immediately made me think the whole movie is just a gimmick in order to see some real fucking on film but not call itself a porn.  Of course, this is Lars von Trier and not some new filmmaker trying to scam his way into a career by, say—I dunno—filming a terribly written horror film and secretly filming it in an amusement park.

"To continue my story, I demand payment of peanut butter Oreos..."

While it was clear that boning was an important part of the film (it’s called Nymphomaniac, for crying out loud), the film isn’t just a sloppy story weaved into a fuckfest.  To be honest, the story is not bad and all the things that have gone on in Joe’s life are mildly interesting and actually make for some decent drama.  Additionally, the film is tremendously acted.  The scenes with Charlotte Gainsbourg as Joe telling her tale to Stellan Skarsgård’s character of Seligman have some real chemistry to it and helps anchor the entire film.  The film also has some great performances from Uma Thurman as the woman who loses her husband to Joe, Stacy Martin as a younger Joe, and two performances that were better than I had anticipated.
For some reason, she left a copy of Kill Bill to go with her husband that Joe
just took...

Christian Slater plays Joe’s father and, besides the fact that I learned he still is alive, he was giving off a very strong performance—something I haven’t seen from him in a long time.

I haven't seen him this good since he played Teen Boy in Crime Story
back in 1986!

However, more surprising than that was the performance from an actor I don’t think very much of…Shia LaBeouf.  Nymphomaniac will mark the first time that I’ve watched a film with Stutter LaPlagiarist and said, “Wow, it’s like he’s not even Shia LaBeouf but someone with real talent.”  For the first time ever, I’ve watched a film where he was actually the character he was playing and not just Shia LaBeouf failing to be the character he was playing.  I was actually impressed…it doesn’t change my opinion of the guy but it definitely showed me that when he wants to, he can act.  However, it seems that when he wants to act it means showing off little LaBeouf in the process.

And then it turns out he just used someone else's performance without their

The look on young Joe's face is pretty much the same
one I had the entire movie.
The only thing I didn’t care for with Nymphomaniac Vol. I is that it bored me.  I know that sounds like a weird complaint since I just said that Joe’s tale was kinda interesting but that’s just it…it’s only kinda interesting.  I dug the fact this film didn’t make Joe look like a madwoman and, in reality, was just a girl who openly admitted that she liked the feeling of sex and liked being aroused and like exploring her sexuality.  I also liked the interaction Joe had with Seligman and his interpretation of her story and the fact he connected it constantly to fishing.  Finally, I liked the film’s use of metaphor in Joe’s story but, through all this, the film just moves slowly and, even with its mild interest it created in me, the movie was still just boring for me—which I know will open me up to insults from movie snobs who say my boredom comes from an inability to enjoy art and that I just want explosions and mindless entertainment.  That could be the case, Imaginary Movie Snob, or this film’s story just didn’t resonate with me…which is a possibility that a lot of people who hate when people disagree with them never consider (and, in case you’re wondering, yes, I’ve already been told by a movie snob that I’m a moron because I only thought a Lars von Trier film was okay).

Fuck, even Stellan is looking at me like I'm a moron for not worshipping
Lars von Trier.

There were definitely things I enjoyed about Nymphomaniac Vol. I (like the fishing metaphors, those amused me), things I didn’t care for (the pace of the story), and things I felt didn’t really need to be there (like the graphic sex—it still feels gimmick-y to me) but, overall, the film isn’t terrible or unwatchable.  Will I ever watch it again?  Nah.  But there is the second volume I have to watch…which will literally be the next review.  I could have combined them in one but I won’t have any of that nonsense.

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