Definition: Nymphomania, also known as Hypersexuality, is extremely frequent or suddenly increased sexual urges or sexual activity. It can be caused by some medical conditions or medication, Mental health problems such as borderline personality disorder, and alcohol and some drugs use (Wikipedia).
Joe, Charlotte Gainsbourg, a diagnosed nymphomaniac, found beaten up on the street on a cold winter day by Seligman, a strange and kind man, Stellan Skarsgård. Picked up and taken to his apartment, she repays him for his kindness by sharing her life story of sexual obsessions with him. Being unfamiliar with the world of physical pleasures, the unmarried Seligman is able to discern Joe’s story only by correlating it with the art of fishing.
Lars von Trier is known to direct avant-garde films with depressing notions. I love his style. At times I’m caught off guard by his extremeness. It can be overwhelming to the point when I desperately need to watch something comedic and light just to balance my emotions. His characters are always haunted by something, only to find themselves deeper and deeper in a disputed point. Extreme nudity, strong and piercing text, detailed sexual descriptions, pornographic scenes, and obsessions. To me this film was not an easy one to watch. At some point it felt a little too much and I thought I needed a break. The role of Joe is not an easy one, as this is a girl who develops sexual habits at a young age and exposes herself erotically constantly. It can’t be easy to portray, except both Stacy Martin and Charlotte Gainsbourg are so damn convincing at it. Kudos for both actresses! As to Ms. Gainsbourg, I tend to like her in very specific films. She’s not a continuous flavor of mine. I have to admit, I prefer her speaking French than English. There’s something quite annoying about her that perhaps makes her the great actress she is. She’s often the vulnerable and quiet woman that holds a certain sadness in her eyes. I have to be in the mood for that, I guess. I do love her wardrobe and hair styles both on films and in real life. I was surprised to see Christian Slater and Uma Thurman as part of the cast, as I would not find them to be the usual typecast for von Trier films.
One of the things that amazed me while watching NYMPH()MANIAC was the level of openness and sharing between two strange individuals. One room with many secrets. It is profound. An intimate encounter translated into two different versions. Putting sex in the context of fishing… It’s pure genius.