There is something totally unforgettable about Joe’s story, which starts when she first discovered her ‘cunt’ at the age of two and a half years. Her story is addressed to Seligman, a strange lonely middle aged Jew that finds Joe lying beaten and bleeding in a dark alleyway at the rear of his flat. He takes the young women there to tend her wounds. Its while she is lying in bed recuperating she starts to tell him about her life that consists of a series of promiscuous sexual adventures. Nymph()maniac (2013) is Danish director Lars von Triers third and final film in his brilliant “Depression Trilogy” which was proceeded by Antichrist in 2009 and Melancholia in 2011.
This new film ‘a bizarre exploration of sexuality in all its twisted glory’ is ingeniously divided into two volumes with five chapters in the first volume and three in the second. There is no real reason given as to why Joe is so sexually active from a very early age. Her normal loving relationship with her father gives no clues but at 12 years old she experiences an epileptic episode that transforms it self into a sexual occurrence. Her first real sexual experience is with Jerome to whom she gives up her virginity. This one event leads to compulsive sex with literately thousands of different men. Her appetite for even more intense experiences leads her to engage a professional sadist called K. This is the only episode in the film that tends to make you want to look away - but you don’t!
A self diagnosed nymphomaniac, Joe’s explanation for her actions is that she must be a bad person, but she refuses to admit to Seligman that her sexually explicit existence is immoral and repudiates the idea of changing her life style, preferring her way of life to a life of hypocrisy.
The character of Joe is divided between newcomer Stacy Martin and von Trier regular Charlotte Gainsbourg (whose rendering of Hey Joe over the final credits is up there with the Hendrix version). Stellen Skarsgard plays Seligman, far more convincing than he was in The Railway Man (2013). Shia LaBeouf, looking a little lost at times plays the virginity snatching Jerome and the dominant S&M dispensing K is creepily portrayed by Jamie Bell.
Not a film for everyone, but then none of this director’s films is to every body’s taste. It does not have the shock value of Antichrist but it does have an array of penis types, sadomasochism, oral and anal sex and threesomes! Skarsgard denies that the film is pornographic and says you would be hard pressed to find anything to masturbate over! My honest opinion is that if, like me, you love von Triers contribution to the cinematic landscape then your going to love this film, or you could wait for the promised five and a half hour hard-core version!