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Generally favorable reviews- based on 98 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 81 out of 98
  2. Negative: 11 out of 98

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  1. Mar 21, 2014
    Nymphomaniac is more than "sex epic"; it is an intelligent, gripping and a rather intense masterpiece made brilliant by great writing and fantastic acting - blending humour and shocking moments in equal measure, but also being a smart and engaging experience as well. It does have its flaws, albeit minor; Shia LaBeouf's strange "British" accent and some odd casting changes in Volume II. This film is definitely NOT for everyone due to its incredibly raunchily and controversial nature and some jaw-droppingly shocking moments and also its length which some may consider to be overlong. But the film is definitely worth a watch, and is worth to be analysed as well. Expand
  2. Mar 28, 2014
    I didn’t discover Lars von Trier until the tender age of twenty-two years old, and like so many others, it was all thanks to his shocking and highly controversial film Antichrist. In the midst of my growing cinematic knowledge, I became intrigued with von Trier’s body of work. Although I didn’t seem to have the stomach for the aforementioned film, I was curious and looked into his previous directorial efforts, like Manderlay and Dogville instead. Two years later, I got myself into the theatre and watched my very first von Trier film on the big screen, Melancholia. Even though my expectations for the film differed from the moment the film started, I knew I was experiencing something unique; a visceral film with hints of philosophical rants and raves, abstract imaging and a certain level of pretentiousness; unbeknownst to me at the time, the very ingredients to any good von Trier film. Fast forward another two years, and von Trier delivers his banned and highly provocative sexual epic; an oeuvre of bold claims, passionate sexual stylistics and raw sex, in two parts no less, that is not for the faint of heart.

    Nymphomaniac: Volume I is a work of fine erotic art by an artist you cannot help but despise. Since his ‘persona non grata’ status from the Cannes film festival, von Trier has embraced his newest label as his work continues to be hardened, tough to swallow cinematic narratives, and Nymphomaniac: Volume I is no different. He may be coy, deceptive, arrogant, and manipulative, but von Trier’s work is undeniably passionate, wrought, and full of daring visual feats and narrative brevity.

    The story begins, ends, and follows Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) von Trier’s faithful muse in what he has called to described his Depression Trilogy, being followed only by Antichrist and Melancholia. Like the two previous entries in his Depression Trilogy, our female protagonist is on a journey of transcendence. But unlike the two previous entries which force the protagonist through a journey of self discovery resulting from a fateful tragedy that has plagued their lives, Joe’s harsh adversities are brought on to her by herself, or rather as von Trier repeatedly puts it, by the strongest human force we may ever experience–our sexuality. The idea of the defined version of nymphomania is never mentioned in volume I, and rightly so, because volume one does not deal with von Trier’s obsession with rectifying political correctness. Instead, volume I serves as a diabolically sinister exploration of one young girl’s sexual identity. Lars von Trier may very well be the face of cinematic hypocrisy, usually contradicting himself, but in this film von Trier dabbles in various religions, just like throughout his own life. Catholicism, the Protestantism, and atheism, it seems that the only aspect of each religion that interests this director extraordinaire is the idea of sin. In any of his films, the concept of sin survives well beyond any religion, and volume I attests to the sins of a public few, and a sheltered many.

    We first find Joe (Gainsbourg) laying on the floor, in a position similar to Jesus Christ on the cross. Luckily for her, she is seen by Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), who takes her into his home, offering her tea and a patient ear to hear how and why she ended up on the floor of an alleyway all battered and bruised. She explains that the way she got there begins the moment she was only two-years old and when she first discovered a fascination with her genitalia. An interesting observation to make clear is that, throughout the film, Joe seems to come from normal parents who suffer from some of the most common martial issues any couple could face; isolation, loneliness, falling out of love etc. Her father (Christian Slater) and mother (Connie Neilson) do not seem to share much together, other than a daughter and a home. Joe and her father spend hours upon hours walking through nature, looking for their ‘soul tree’ and passing through the history of nature and the importance of identity. Joe’s childhood is hypnotic and lucid, almost directly reflecting against the stark and bold future of her teenage years and callous adulthood. Throughout her youth and scenes with her father, we are sent through a dream; a dream of a little girl searching through innocence and righteousness, only finding a desire for pleasure and an orgasm.

    Once she reaches the age of fifteen, Joe knows that she is ready to lose her virginity and wants Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf) to take it. She explains that she knew that she wanted him to be her first based on his hands; hands that were strong, experienced and dirty. Joe never is or becomes fascinated with the simple and explained notions of attraction; her desires are to be picked up, dumped, and used over and over again. Joe finds no pleasure in love. This notion alone, told throughout her story and the beginnings of her nymphomania told to Seligman (Skarsgård), is something he finds troubling to understand.
  3. Mar 30, 2014
    Novo projeto de Lars Von Trier, diretor de “Dogville”, Ninfomaníaca é um filme de mais de 5 horas que comercialmente foi dividido em duas partes, eis que o primeiro volume chegou aos cinemas brasileiros. Seligman, um grisalho senhor encontra uma mulher ferida em um beco, Joe( interpretada por Charlotte Gainsbourg, atriz que também foi protagonista de “Anticristo”) e a leva para sua casa, onde depois de descansar ela começa a contar sua insólita história de compulsão sexual desde a tenra infância

    O filme, que chegou a ser anunciado como escrachada pornografia não tem nada de excitante. Von Trier não tem intenção alguma de virar o novo Buttman (legendário diretor pornô) mas sim de explorar os horizontes da sexualidade humana com a frieza de um profissional de mecatrônica. Números e gráficos invadem a tela em vários momentos, seja durante a perda da virgindade de Joe, seja no simples ato da baliza pra estacionar um carro. O sexo é visto como um ato mecânico, frio e racional ara a obtenção do prazer e ponto final. Em determinado momento Joe e suas amigas adolescentes criam uma “guerrilha contra o amor romântico” com hinos blasfemos e compromisso do sexo pelo sexo

    Joe cresce e vê seu hedonismo sexual enfrentando as primeiras rusgas com o mundo ao seu redor, seja no momento em que sua sexualidade colide com a instituição do casamento de uma rival, seja quando se vê confrontada com emoções humanas intimidadoras como o sofrimento pela perda iminente de um parente doente; sua resposta para qualquer sofrimento advindo desses dissabores é apenas mais sexo ainda, numa longa compensação que aparentemente resulta num longo arrependimento e auto-expiação na qual somos frustrados de descortinar, precisando aguardar até a segunda parte da história

    Von Trier é macaco velho, sabe como filmar bem sua história, extrair dos atores boas atuações e pontuar o enredo com diversas citações eruditas e imagens diversas na exposição de suas metáforas. Ainda que tais imagens ilustrativas “encham um pouco a linguiça” elas não chegam a comprometer o filme. O que incomoda um pouco é o ritmo claudicante e a contribuição discutível que algumas passagens dão à compreensão da personalidade de Joe, mas em meio a costumeira pasmaceira dos lançamentos pasteurizados do cinema americano esse filme do diretor dinamarquês vale uma boa conferida
  4. Mar 21, 2014
    This was one of my most anticipated movies of the year, and I was only slightly let down by it. Gainsbourg is great in the first part, though her role is almost entirely confined to that of a narrator. The visuals are amazing, and the story is compelling. The supposed graphic nature of the sex is a bit overblown – you’ll see more in an episode of Girls these days. The primary weaknesses are an extended sequence with Uma Thurman, and a long/boring storyline with Christian Slater as the protagonist’s father. If they had simply trimmed or nixed each of these sequences, I would have given the film a 9 or higher. I’m hoping that part II will be a touch more streamlined. And I hope they expand on the humor found in the first part. Expand
  5. Apr 5, 2014
    A man (Stellan Skarsgård) discovers a woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) lying in an alley, badly beaten. He takes her back to his room, where she proceeds to recount her early years and her extreme need for sex. This film confirms that writer/director Lars Von Trier (Melancholia, Dance in the Dark, Breaking the Waves) is one of the most interesting and unique film artists working today. There are flashes of cinematic brilliance, sometimes lubricious intellectualization and a boldness in subject and form. Oh yes, and lots of matter-of-fact nudity and explicit (though not erotic) sex. The performances are rich with Uma Thurman's devastating brief appearance a highlight and Shia LaBeouf reminding us why he's a good actor. A compelling, audacious, stimulating experience. Expand
  6. Jul 6, 2014
    The movie had a good beginning. it captured my interest, but when we have the scene with uma Thurman, the movie began to be non believable and the acting was over the top. I expected the movie to be a lot better and more deep.
  7. Jun 17, 2014
    A 4-hour binge watching of provocateur Lars von Trier’s latest feminist saga (divided into two volumes) is a candid confession of a middle-age nymphomaniac Joe (Gainsbourg, doughtily consummates her enthralling rendering in von Trier’s Trilogy of Depression, after ANTICHRIST 2009 and MELANCHOLIA 2011, 8/10), out of self-hatred, she chronicles her deviant life from childhood to present, to an elder Jewish polymath Seligman (Skarsgård), who brings her home after finding her lying on the street afflicted from a savage assault.

    read the rest of my review on my blog, google cinema omnivore, thanks!
  8. Mar 21, 2014
    Like most of Von Trier's films 'Nymphomaniac' pulls you in and you become mesmerised, although I think it is fair to say that this is not anywhere near hs best work. An initial problem is with the context in which the girl's story is told. A huge suspension of disbelief has to be overcome to credit that two strangers, meeting as they do here, would spend so much time together discussing the girl's whole life as a nymphomaniac. This earl obstacle prevents one from really settling in and enjoying the film. Resistance is also exacerbated by a screenplay which constantly over uses metaphors to make points, some of which are laughably ridiculous. The story is broken down in to chapters of which 'Delirium' is easily the worst. This episode shot in black and white had me contemplating why I was actually watching all this mumbo jumbo. However, most of the time despite these flaws, the film is provocatively compelling.
    Performances are generally good across the board for the most part. Charlotte Gainsbourg is the story teller here (she doesn't come in to her own until volume 2) and centre stage is handed to a cold and detached Stacy Martin who acquits herself well, as do Uma Thurman and Shia Lebouf. I see this as the starter. The main course IS tastier.
  9. May 7, 2014
    The Danish director Lars Von Trier is one of the rarest among who rapidly changes theme, plot and genre in his each movie. I love his filmography and been watching those for some time now. I am not a great fan of musical themes, but his movie 'Dancer in the Dark' is one of my all time favourites. These all led me here to take a quick glance on his latest two installment movie series.

    This movie tells a story of a woman called Joe, who suffers from being a nymphomaniac. Especially this first movie briefs her life as a youngster who seeks a different class of men to fulfill her sexual thirst. This story was told in a series of flashbacks when middle aged Joe recalls her earlier story in the presence of an old man. The stories she told was presented in chapters like a book and each chapter contains different characters in different phases of her life. She spits all her secrets that were preserved so far which stuns the old man.

    ‘‘The secret ingredient to sex...
    is love’’

    In between the breaks of the chapters the old man brings up some comparison of book, history and art to her story. I don't know, Von Trier might thought to convince the audience by saying it is not just a fiction, but the reappearance of history in the modern world. Well, he succeeds, but some people won't agree for not shown in a decent manner. I mean everything in the movie was raw. It makes me think the world (filmmaking) is not anymore the same.

    The commitment given by the actors were exceptional. The kind of shock that Von Trier gives through this movie will remain with me for a long time. He approached with this to the different class of audience where the majority will remain silent and away from it. This part was so much better as it stands true to its title where part 2 a bit reorders everything and travels in an alternate direction. Especially the end was so sudden and makes us to feel an incomplete. It is better to watch one after another without giving much space and that is how it works most probably.
  10. Mar 26, 2014
    Nymphomaniac is a erotic drama that not only sticks with you throughout- it makes you keep your eyes open for the disturbing climax behind it. A very deep and engaging sex drama. Gettinsburg is excellent- one of the best female actresses of the year. And Wilem Dafoe is good as well. A must watch.
  11. Mar 27, 2014
    Not at all deserving the fuss it has provoked: it fails to shock and it fails to bring a good story. The truly good parts are Stellan Skarsgard's character's comparisons.
  12. Mar 21, 2014
    A solid effort from Lars Von Trier. Far from his best work, but still a compelling,intimate look at sex addiction. I like it, but not as much as his previous effort Melancholia.
  13. Aug 7, 2014
    sex epic... erotic dreamscape... this movie is alive! the preview intrigued me... Nymphomaniac has one great message; love. truly gripping story-telling. brilliant writing from Lars von Trier! crazy good cast every actor played their part well, top notch drama! A++
  14. Apr 24, 2014
    Nymphomaniac, the third and final installment of Lars von Trier's "depression trilogy" following Antichrist and Melancholia, has been broken up into two separate films. And so far, Vol I has to be the weakest of the trilogy. That is not to say, however, that the film isn't an absolute pleasure to watch. It's difficult for a von Trier film to displease me because he consistently proves that, despite having an apparent mastery of the basics that comprise successful film, he will always go out of his way to topple those prevailing conventions and prove that smart and wholesome entertainment can exist outside of the educated norm and standard procedure. And what makes this film uniquely enjoyable is that von Trier has so many ideas to tackle, which are all thrown indiscriminately onto the screen like a carnival of concepts. To pause and take a minute to dissect each one and its structural and thematic relevance is a small and uncelebrated joy (one of the main reasons, among more apparent others, why this film should be rented electronically and not watched in theaters).
    However, it's difficult to approach a topic as taboo and culturally stigmatized as nymphomania, even if you are Lars von Trier. Thus, the approach requires clarification, definition, and most importantly, a firm grip on the stance you are trying to put across. And unfortunately, in multiple scenarios von Trier seems just as lost as we, often wavering in his stance. To address such a hard-to-treat topic as a variation in normative sexual behavior, von Trier must be prepared to produce answers, not just more questions. Because without answers, we are left without a definitive characterization and an base to stand the film on. On a similar note (and this is just a warning, not a direct criticism), films are a reflection of their society and culture. The live, thrive, and are rooted in the norms of the worlds they are born out of. Thus, von Trier cannot parade around flaunting his intellectual superiority while his film is nestled in a society where conceptual iconoclasm has already become relatively conventional. He was hot stuff for doing it in the nineties. However, he'll have to rely on a little more than brashness and ideological shock value to remain relevant in the years to come.
    Nymphomaniac's greatest success thus far has been its lead. In Joe, von Trier creates a new kind of antihero, a female who is burdened by and misrepresented by her sexual addiction and is painfully aware of it. We already knew von Trier is a genius when if comes to handling female leads (prime example, his most recent work Melancholia). What we didn't know is that he was capable of inventing a new kind of female lead that may morph and adapt as cinema becomes more focused on the complex female protagonist. In Vol I, we see Joe failing to fight the battle against both her detrimental sexual cravings and the significant real-world consequences they produce, both towards others (refer to Uma Thurman's deliciously wonderful performance) and towards herself (refer to Shia LaBoeuf's recurring character). In Vol II I hope to see how this lead progresses in her frequently misunderstood battle and ends up down on the ground, bruised and helpless as in the beginning of Vol I.
    Technicality-wise, the film is generally great. The acting is all around superlative, beginning with the impressive scenes with Stellan Skarsgård and Charlotte Gainsbourg (who I hope to see a lot more of in the sequel) and continuing with dramatic and skillfully un-erotic but gracefully natural performances from talented up-and-coming screen whore Stacy Martin, Shia LaBoeuf, and many other men. The cinematography is fresh, and the editing is clever and creative and reflects a more visual than spoken narrative (perfect for von Trier's directing style). Apart from its subject, Nymphomaniac: Vol I is a solidly produced work of art that is distinctly Lars von Trier. It's the kind of film that feels like it should be watched multiple times in order to get the most bang for your buck, but you'd be much more comfortable jumping immediately into Vol II and then casting this two-part work away for purely academic analysis. However, it's an essential experience for anyone who has any remote interest in the more unconventional, avant-garde side of the cinema of this decade.

    FINAL SCORE: 77.5 (pretty good ---------------o----- great)
    (Sorry for the extra long review)
  15. Sep 26, 2014
    Though I think von Trier intended this and its sequel as a four-hour egg in the face of conservative America, I thought it was an excellent look at sexual relations and their minefield-laced politics, showing wonderful imagination. Great acting by Christian Slater, Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgård. Highly anticipating watching the sequel this evening!
  16. Apr 19, 2014
    Very good movie, really good direction. Controversial by its content and topic, nevertheless, really well developed, not basing its greatness in sex, yes in human nature and emotions.
  17. Sep 28, 2014
    I was completely prepared to rip this movie a new hole ala my lambasting of "Blue is the warmest color," (see my review for that film) "Nymphomaniac" being the latest entry in the same type of European dogma-style attempt to make a artistically valid pornographic movie but the movie (Nymphomaniac) was so beyond the pale of bad I can't summon anything even critical to say about it. It really is so bad it doesn't even deserve a juvenile thrashing. Thoughts of any sort are difficult to formulate around this film. It almost makes that travesty "Blue is the warmest color" look like competent film making.
    I will say this though: critics of Blue often accused the director of that film, Abdellatif Kechiche of making a movie about a lesbian relationship while having no knowledge of lesbian sex. After watching Nymphomaniac Lars Von Trier appears to have no knowledge of heterosexual sex.
  18. Mar 21, 2014
    "Nymphomaniac: Volume 1" is filmmaking on a different level. Lars Von Trier is know for his controversial films, where is this film is one of the most disturbing films I have ever seen. The characters are really deep, it is genuinely acted, the way of story telling is different, the director has his own way of making you remember, it is one of the best films I've seen this year so far, I highly suggested to anyone who can handle subjects such as sex addiction, which in this film isn't erotic, but disturbing. Expand
  19. Mar 28, 2014
    A very beautifully shot and well acted film, All though at times disturbing and overly graphic, And at times just too much, All though overall nymphomaniac is a good solid film, About addiction, Lust and challenge.
  20. Mar 30, 2014
    This movie is the perfect beginning to an end for Von Trier's "Trilogy of Depression". It's beautifully filmed and the story of Joe (Gainsbourg) is enthralling and tragic at the same time. The only part of the film that I had a problem with was the juxtaposition of Joe's story with Seligman's (Skarsgard) stories and analogies to any and all topics. Yes I understand that these topics that he brings up do connect and reflect the story that Joe tells and yes it is somewhat interesting at first, but then it gets old FAST. I could care less about dessert forks or fly fishing flys I just want to see Joe's story all the way through with no interruption. Other than that slight qualm it is a beautiful film that puts people face to face with one of the most taboo subjects in America; Sex! Expand
  21. May 29, 2014
    Lars Von Trier, who’s no stranger to controversy, paints his final portrait (well the first part of it) in his “Depression Trilogy”. “Nymphomaniac” as the name “suggests” follows a proudly self diagnose nymphomaniac named Joe and her defining erotic experiences while growing up. These experiences are recounted by an Older Joe (played by Charlotte Gainsbourg), who tell her tale to an old, seemingly saintly man, played by Stellan Skarsgard, who sees her raunchy sex stories as a metaphor for the peaceful act of fishing. The episodes are told in typically artsy fashion, as that’s the only way Von Trier seems to know how to tell a story; but who can bark insults when the story is being well told. What’s particularly Interesting was how the film manages to maintain an unusually sharp sense of humor, despite the dark setting and subject matter which it delves in. That confrontation with Uma Thurman’s distressed wife of a cheating family man was particularly delightful… in a weird way. Anyway, I will keep this review short and spicy, as there’s more to discuss in part 2. As it stands, I quite liked this film, and was probably most impressed with Stacy Martin’s brave performance as Young Joe. With all that was built up in this film, I am actually eager to see part two. Expand
  22. May 10, 2014
    Un simple film pornographique du style Emmanuelle dont le but est de provoqué/déranger comme tout les film de ce réalisateur .
    Les "vrai" acteurs étant doublé par des acteurs pornographique pour les tres nombreuses scenes de sexes , autant allé voir directement un vrai film pornographique .
    Notons au passage , que les enfants de Charlotte Gainsbourg on été insulté/chahuté par leur
    camarade d'école et traumatisé à la sortie de ce film .... Expand
  23. Oct 6, 2014
    I was tentative about this one. I love some of Von Trier; Dancer in the Dark is beautiful. Antichrist was true garbage to me-- gratuitous metaphors to the point of lacking metaphor. But this first volume of the film was truly something special. Even though the narrative dialogue is a bit contrived, the story is extremely fluid and could only come from an educated mind, from someone who sees sex in a very realistic sense. It is an intellectual journey into the origins of misunderstanding and abuse of a psychologically affected girl. It is riveting and accurately emotional, and never plays it too heavy-handed. Expand

Generally favorable reviews - based on 41 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 30 out of 41
  2. Negative: 6 out of 41
  1. Reviewed by: Mike Scott
    Apr 4, 2014
    Vol. 1 functions reasonably well as a standalone film in its own right, playing out like a dose of mass therapy, an interesting, Von Trier-led sexploration of humankind's conflicted approach to sex: We love it, but we also fear it and are often thoroughly ashamed of it.
  2. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Apr 3, 2014
    Presented as a stand-alone film, but without an explanation for the protagonist’s physical and emotional injuries, it’s a head-scratcher. As with Joe’s sexual compulsion, scratching can’t cure the itch.
  3. Reviewed by: Marc Savlov
    Mar 26, 2014
    The filmmaker brings neither condescension nor moral outrage here. A father confessor to his benighted characters, von Trier may revel in the muck, but Nymphomaniac: Volume 1 is anything but a dirty movie.