Going to watch a Lars von Trier movie already had me thinking one way. And that was the film was likely to be very arty, very psychological, have many layers, and be potentially pretentious as all hell! Not that I’ve seen many of his films, as in fact the only one I’ve seen was Melancholia, which I really didn’t like. But some times a filmmaker just has a reputation that is bigger than the actual films of theirs you’ve seen. And so watching Nymphomaniac: Vol 1, had me already set up in a way, that may not have been the best way to watch and judge a film.
The film itself though also had a rather large reputation that preceded it. That being it was actually one long 4 hour movie, cut into 2 volumes, all about the epic story of a Nymphomaniac woman, and that it was filmed with lots of star actors having real sex, or at the least cleverly shot to make it look like real sex, but most likely body doubles and digital trickery. So yeah, it kind of had a lot to live up to, and had a lot to do to get past my preconceived ideas of the filmmaker and the film.
The film was beautifully shot, nicely acted, interesting, to a point, different enough, and boundary pushing, which kept me engaged, for some of the time. The bad though, is a little longer list. Firstly the acting. There are some great performances, but some of the accents going on are just bad enough to pull you out of the movie, with Shia LaBeouf the main culprit. Also the characters are just so damn hard to like, all except Stellan Skarsgard who I hope like hell doesn’t become a hated character in vol 2.
The main reason why the characters are so hard to like though is because of the main titled subject of the film, actresses, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stacy Martin, playing the older and younger versions of the same character respectively. She’s just so conceited, self righteous, and soulless, that even though the story is meant to delve into the issues and most likely mental illness around nymphomania, it just doesn’t make me care because she’s just such a bitch.
The other big issue is the convoluted nature of how the story unfolds and how the characters deal with each other. There’s even one point in the film when this issue is dealt with between the two main characters, which I’m guessing is the filmmaker talking directly to the audience, and saying just go along with it, but I can’t help but have an issue with it none the less.
So sadly one of the main feelings I’ve got from watching this first part, is to actually feel a little sick inside, which of course is not a good thing. But, the show must go on, and I’ve got vol 2 ahead of me, and I’ll hold off on judging the film as a whole until live seen both parts.
Well, I’ve seen both parts, and I hate this film, so much! Vol 2 kept going down the same path as the first, and that sick feeling just stayed with me, so much so, that I had to watch the film over a few days, as any long stretch of it just didn’t feel very good. And that ending! Seriously, what the fuck was up with that! I had to sit through 4 hours for that ending! Really! The next time I see Lars von Trier’s name attached to a film, I’m going to give it a wide birth.
4 out of 10 from me!