Le sigh. It couldn’t last. The first half of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac managed to strike a wobbly balance between humorously abstract rumination and subzero-temp sexploitation. But the second part of his examination of the travails of a self-professed nymphomaniac (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is just a litany of complaint, delivered in Latin. You start to feel that like an old fetishist, the often brilliant von Trier just can’t help himself: He must take a revered indie figure (Björk, Gainsbourg), and put her through the full paces of sub-Sirkian melodrama, but only so slowly and tediously you aren’t actually manipulated into feeling anything. Instead, coldly, coldly—like a Nazi doctor—you must watch a woman subjected to torture, whether by her own designs or those of awful men. And so the titular nymphomaniac is betrayed by both protegee and mentor, slapped around just so she can feel again, kicked in the face, and subjected to even worse indignities. Why? Because for some particularly trollish part of von Trier, pain is always the truth beneath any dream of happiness. “I am a nymphomaniac!” Gainsbourg proudly declares to a sex-addict support group that looks frumpy by comparison. Her triumph is brief. The film is not.
- Running Time:
- Release Date: Tuesday, April 15, 2014
- Critic's Score: C-
- Watch the trailer