Nymphomaniac: friend or foe?

Labelled as the most controversial film, not only in 2013 but also in the last decade, Nymphomaniac, and its director, surely stopped the clocks around the world.

After tackling the most unusual themes, hardly seen through film theory and history, provocative and eccentric Danish writer and director Lars von Trier, after Antichrist in 2009, decided to focus on sexually explicit theme again. However, this time it is more shocking than imaginable.

Brilliant yet frustrating, Nymphomaniac follows 50-year-old Joe (played by Stacy Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg, depending what age is Joe in the film) and her sexual will and activeness since the age of two. After being found bruised and bloody in an alley by an academic Seligman (wonderfully portrayed by on of the Swedish finest Stellan Skarsgård) she ends up telling her life story to her hero. Filled with something that you might flag as A-list pornography, her story focuses on early sexual experiences, pure feminine competitiveness – who will get who and how many of them, and her life with a sadist.

“I’m just a bad human being”, says Charlotte Gainsbourg as Joe at the beginning of the film. True, Trier’s two-part drama is four hours long, but it is also a four-hour search for deep personal boundaries of a human being.

After tackling the end of the world in Melancholia (2011) and the pure evil in Antichrist (2009), Trier is not an amateur when it comes to peculiar movie themes that almost always embrace intellectual mind exploration. Nymphomaniac is raw, explicit, but most of all honest vision of cinematic genius and brilliant provocateur. Oscar nominated and Palme d’Or winner (Dance in the Dark, 2001) Lars von Trier dared to question film theories and theorists with this movie.

Surprisingly enough, this four-hour sex-festival isn’t only about sex. Nymphomaniac deals more with issues like female ego, self-destructive patterns, different stages of the state of mind and conventionalism. If possible, movie might be a definite deep insight into individuals and their characters, no matter male or female. Or, to put it plain and simple, it offers a possible response to these questions: how conventional are we when it comes to sex and emotions? And if we are, who’s to blame: society or ourselves?

By default, controversies must follow a controversial movie and more controversial film director. After Cannes Film Festival’s board of directors declared von Trier persona non-grata in 2011 (an unprecedented move for the film festival), some parts of his film Nymphomaniac are banned in some parts of the world. Film board in Turkey has banned the screening of the first part of the movie due to film’s sex scenes, claiming that this film is “pushing the boundaries of porn” and is unfit for public viewing. The second part of Nymphomaniac has been banned in Romania, given a so called IM 18 XXX certification by their cinema board, which means that it can’t be shown to the general public.

So, if you do want to question your own boundaries and people’s characters, and need a new subject to chat about with your friends, this movie is a mandatory watch. If you do not question your actions or yourself in general, and you are not a fan of controversy and explicit scenery, change the record and avoid it.


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