Lars von Trier‘s examination of sex addiction arrived on demand last weekend and the finished product is outrageous and compelling fun. It struggles to seem profound, and much of the philosophizing is as likely to inspire guffaws as gee whizzes. In a twist, there’s a lot more fishing on display than human anatomy.
Part 2 hits on demand platforms on April 3, but it has a tough act to follow. Here’s five WTF moments from the first part in the Danish director’s between the sheets opus.
1.) SHIA LABEOUF AS DESPOILER
It falls to Shia LaBeouf‘s motorcycle riding ne’er-do-well to liberate Joe, the film’s heroine, from her virginity. He’s just as in-need of a shower as audiences will feel after the deed is done. It’s an act that involves five thrusts (helpfully illustrated numerically on-screen) and the seediest chop shop outside of “Drive.”
However, the most bewildering thing is that LaBeouf decided to outfit his character with an extremely unconvincing English accent. No voice has veered between accents so wildly with the possible exception of Kevin Costner in “Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves.” There’s no logical reason for the choice, since other actors keep their normal voices. Stellan Skarsgård retains his natural Swedish inflected cadence and Uma Thurman sounds American born and bred.
Chalk this up to another off-beat choice from a true eccentric.
2.) CHRISTIAN SLATER LOSES HIS DIGNITY AND HIS LUNCH
Cast your mind back to 1990. “Heathers” was flying off video store shelves and “Pump Up the Volume” and “Young Girls II” were causing millions of teenagers to suffer heart palpitations as audiences fell in love with Christian Slater.
What a difference two decades and a fecal film moment makes. In “Nymphomaniac,” Slater plays Joe’s father. A sympathetic man of science who nevertheless requires Depends before slipping off into the orgiastic unknown. In the film’s grossest scene, Slater soils his hospital bedroom, requiring an emergency changing of the sheets. Von Trier adds to Slater’s indignity by focusing the camera on the actor’s backside as a nurse wipes him off. Hopefully a digital double was involved.
3.) MORE FLY FISHING THAN “A RIVER RUNS THROUGH IT”
Cast your lines. Audiences expecting hours of skin may be disappointed by the amount of time “Nymphomaniac — Part I” spends rhapsodizing about the pleasures of one of the least sexiest sports. Skarsgard has the impressive ability to relate every one of Joe’s sexual experiences to fly fishing. “Oh that time you had a contest with a friend to see how many train passengers you could sleep with? That’s just like this trout I landed once.”
Yeah, it’s a stretch, but it’s a better advertisement for the sport than “Field & Stream.”
4.) DO NOT STEAL UMA THURMAN’S MAN
Hell hath no fury like Uma scorned. The most memorable moment in a film that overflows with scenes that will become the stuff of sexual nightmares, is when the “Kill Bill” actress shows up with kids in tow to confront Joe and her philandering husband. At one point, she steamrolls into Joe’s bedroom with the unforgettable request to see the “whoring bed.” Another commercial tie-in opportunity for Sealy Posturepedic missed!
5.) OH, THAT MONTAGE!
The male member, in all its shapes, colors and sizes, takes center stage in what may be the most squirm-inducing montage in film history. There’s a seemingly endless array of flaccid penises towards the middle of the film as Joe recounts her personal history with genitalia. She also offers up the scientifically dubious claim that if you combine all the removed foreskin in history, if would reach to Mars and back again. Given that Mars is 225 million kilometers from earth on average and 108 billion people are estimated to have been born throughout time, half of them women, that makes for some very busy mohels.