I’m trying to determine what Lars von Trier was getting at with his four hour (five and a half hour in its full version) Nymphomaniac. Is he making a serious film? Is it a put on? Why does he think it’s a story worth droning on about for so many hours?
For me the film, the story of a woman named Joe and her exploits, is real mixed bag. There are moments of great power mixed in with a lot of really dull and highly pretentious crap. None of it seems real with all of the characters seeing cold (well except for Stellan Skarsgård), sets that are sets and dialog that is as obviously constructed as they come (It reminded me of some of Nicholson Baker’s trash). My overriding reaction was to laugh at the film and the thought that the film was being taken seriously by many people.
Actually I don’t think it’s being taken seriously, so much as people need to justify why they are watching a film about sex. They can’t let it be known that they were really looking for the titillation of watching celebrities get it on-even dully.
And it is dull. It’s so dull that it becomes boring. Why couldn’t have von Trier made a film about sex and never showed it? Not showing sex for four or six hours-that would have been daring.
Despite my mixed reaction to some of von Triers other films I really can’t fathom what he’s up to with this film. It plays more like a child trying to be grown up by saying dirty things rather than by the man who made Melancholia, Antichrist, Breaking the Waves or Dogville. I also have the suspicion that he thought by having tons of star he could make the film seem like it’s about more than it is.
Full disclosure I never made it all the way to the bitter end. I got so only far into the films before I started to jump forward in five minute increments in the stream (yes I paid to see this on Amazon). Somewhere in the second film I just closed out the window and went to bed. I simply didn’t care.