Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 begins with a wounded Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) left for dead in an alley way. She is discovered and aided by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), who invites her to recover inside his house. While sipping on some tea, Joe begins to recount her life story to Seligman, who wishes to know why he found her beaten in an alley. This story is primarily a tale of her sexual experiences and how these experiences lead her down into a dark and abusive path.
Nymphomaniac is Lars Von Trier's crowning effort. I've seen a handful of Lars Von Trier films in the past, in fact he's a director that I've only gotten into recently, and each of them were unforgettable, The Element of Crime aside. Nymphomaniac is his broadest, most outrageous film and one of the few films of his to have more substance than style. It's an experimental film, but it's also a film Lars looks like he's comfortable with. This is his thirteenth feature, his fourteenth being Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2, and he looks more confident than ever. He's aware that he can push boundaries that other directors refuse to and he embraces it.
The film is a wild and intriguing ride. There are moments in Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 that come across mildly comedic. Some of the "chapters" in the film could almost be classified as a black comedy. While I'm not saying that this film is a comedy, I'm simply pointing out the outrageousness of it all. There's even a scene with the glorious Uma Thurman that's absolutely bonkers. It even managed to get a few good school-girl-like giggles out of me.
The film features some of the best performances this year. There plenty of career-topping performances present in the film, although it's doubtful that any of these performances will get recognition at any awards ceremonies. The biggest surprise in this movie for me, was Shia LaBeouf. I haven't been the biggest supporter of him in the past, but he shines in this film. His performance was unbelievable, and further elevated by his co-stars. While Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgârd don't get a lot of screen time in this first installment, their performances can't go without recognition. Although, the greatest performance in this whole movie comes from newcomer Stacy Martin, who plays a younger Joe. She literally stole every single scene she was in, which is a great deal of the movie.
The artsy editing only added to my love for this movie. It feels weird to say that I loved this movie as the primary story is about rebelling against love, but I freaking loved this movie and my rating won't be doing it enough justice. The editing is something new, something original. Its use of split screen, relevant visuals and on screen text allowed for a greater level of intruigment, and I don't care what you say as I consider intruigment a legitimate word.
To sum up, Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 is Lars Von Trier's crowning effort. It's a wild and intriguing ride with brilliant and life like performances and gloriously artsy editing. My rating for it fails to do this film the justice it deserves.