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Nymphomaniac - First reviews of Lars Von Trier sex saga are mixed

Nymphomaniac

Story by Jack Foley

THE first reviews of Lars Von Trier’s four hour, two-part sex saga Nymphomaniac are in – and they’re mixed.

While few have trashed the film, many have commented upon the cold, clinical style of the film’s direction. And while definitely explicit – particularly during Volume 2 – it isn’t erotic.

Variety’s Peter Debruge, for instance, said: “Racy subject aside, the film provides a good-humored yet serious-minded look at sexual self-liberation, thick with references to art, music, religion and literature, even as it pushes the envelope with footage of acts previously relegated to the sphere of pornography.”

He adds: “The only arousal von Trier intends is of the intellectual variety, making this philosophically rigorous picture a better fit for cinephiles than the raincoat crowd.” Read more

The Guardian‘s Xan Brooks, meanwhile, described the film as “a four-hour cold shower” but concludes that it “ravishes the brain and leaves you begging for more”.

He wrote: “Personally I found this a bruising, gruelling experience and yet the film has stayed with me. It is so laden with highly charged set pieces, so dappled with haunting ideas and bold flights of fancy that it finally achieves a kind of slow-burn transcendence. Nymphomaniac annoys me, repels me, and I think I might love it. It’s an abusive relationship; I need to see it again.” Read more

And The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy wrote that the film “is never boring and does provoke and stimulate, although not as a turn-on, not remotely”. Read more

That’s not to say the film fails to deliver anything risque. For as McCarthy points out, whereas Volume 1 offers “flashes of hard-core action during the initial two hours”, it’s Volume 2 that “gets down in ways the first half doesn’t, although anything resembling real sensuality remains MIA”.

Notorious scenes include Gainsbourg stuffing as many long spoons up her vagina as she can while in a fancy restaurant, and then letting them noisily drop to the floor as she walks out, as well as “a vividly shot three-way” with two African men and Gainsbourg’s venture into pain as pleasure at the hands of a professional S&M (played by Jamie Bell).

Nymphomaniac is being released in Danish cinemas on Christmas Day. It lands in UK cinemas on Friday, March 7 and Friday, March 14, 2014.

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