Yesterday I watched both parts of Lars Von Trier’s NYMPH()OMANIAC, and I left the film feeling extraordinarily elevated. I remember having felt somewhat similarly with Trier’s Breaking The Waves from 1996, Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream, and more recently with Noé’s Enter The Void (2010). It’s that kind of experience.
At first I was actually somewhat hesitant about watching it, as, even though I’m a great admirer of some of Trier’s work, this movie’s marketing was heavily emphasizing its lewdness and art house appeal. That’s why I half-expected a kind of pretentious exploitation film, but it turned out to be a very human and yet theatrically epic drama, with more humour (however black) than one might think, presented as a series of intertwined parables, all framed by a philosophical discussion recalling Plato’s Socratic dialogues at times. It is a challenging film, no doubt, but has its share of rather beautiful, if melancholic, moments as well, and gives you quite a bit to think about.
Officially it is (the last) part of Trier’s so-called Depression-trilogy, after Antichrist and Melancholia. But I thought it would actually fit much better in a trilogy consisting of Breaking The Waves and Dogville as the other films. (I admit I haven’t seen Antichrist yet, though.) The former film depicting a character that has the thing that Nymphomaniac's titular protagonist lacks: love, but in blinding abundance; the latter, Dogville, also containing the themes of lost innocence and the evils of society that re-appear, a bit differently, in this one. Maybe I say this because I find those three to be my favorites of Trier’s filmography so far. Either way, Nymphomaniac is a revelation and just might be the director’s magnum opus.