With explicit sex and penetrating philosophy, this erotic odyssey requires close attention and an open mind.
Stream Nymphomaniac: Vol. I
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What are critics saying?
The most shocking thing about Nymphomaniac, with its cock-shot montages and frankly descriptive narration, is how flat-out funny it often is.
There’s plenty of flesh (much of it belonging to porn doubles), although the film is rarely, if ever, what most people would call erotic or pornographic. It’s neither deeply serious nor totally insincere; hovering somewhere between the two, it creates its own mesmerising power.
A provocative, engrossing, often hilarious, frequently tough picture. Not for all sensibilities but it’s among von Trier’s more playful, purely entertaining films, with insight and humour in even the horrors.
So far, Nymphomaniac looks like a major work from a major director: a compendium of all von Trier’s career-long preoccupations with gender roles, authoritarianism, religion, obsessive behavior, and lust.
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.
Nymphomaniac, which mainly plays out in the banal home-and-office settings you might expect from a 1970s porn shoot, is less drop-dead gorgeous than Antichrist but significantly more human.
It is never boring and does provoke and stimulate, although not as a turn-on, not remotely.
Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac bludgeons the body and tenderises the soul. It is perplexing, preposterous and utterly fascinating.