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Review: 'Nymphomaniac, Volume 1'

March 21, 2014 3:17 p.m.

KPBS film critic Beth Accomando reviews Lars Von Trier's "Nymphomaniac, Volume 1."

Related Story: Review: 'Nymphomaniac, Volume 1'


This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

ANCHOR INTRO: Both controversy and acclaim have followed Danish director Lars Von Trier since he first international hit in 1996, Breaking the Waves. KPBS arts reporter Beth Accomando says he continues to enjoy provoking audiences with his latest film, Nymphomaniac, Volume 1 opening this weekend at Landmark.

According to the Landmark website: Nymphomaniac contains graphic depictions of sexuality to a degree unprecedented in a mainstream feature film." Well that’s one way to arouse people’s interest in an art house film about depression. Nymphomaniac (broken into two volumes) is the final film is Lars Von Trier depression trilogy. But in typical Von Trier fashion he doesn’t deliver on expectations. So while he promises titillating porn he delivers a surprisingly tame portrait of a sex addict played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. She explains her life in a series of chapters to a stranger who takes her in. As a teenager she created a club that rebelled against a conservative society.

CLIP What did you rebel against?... Love… Love?...We were committed to combat love in a love fixated society. a love fixated society

Von Trier is a rebel too. He hates to conform and he loves to provoke. His films are more about ideas and reactions than a traditional narrative. With Nymphomaniac, he makes a film about a sex addict in part to expose our inhibitions and stereotypes about love, sex, and desire. It’s also a way for him to indirectly explore the complexities of his own depression.

Nymphomaniac, Volume 1 – like most of Von Trier’s work – is slippery to describe. It’s brutal but darkly comic, honest yet obscure, and Von Trier is both artistic genius and bad boy prankster. Bottom line, Nymphomaniac is experimental and unpredictable and exactly what you’d expect from Von Trier.

Beth Accomando, KPBS News.