SHARE
Stacy Martin of
Stacy Martin of "Nymphomaniac"
Nymphomaniac
Stellan Skarsgard of “Nymphomaniac” | Paula Schwartz Photo

“Nymphomaniac: Volume 1,” which opened Friday, March 21, 2014 in New York at the Sunshine Cinema, is hardly a kiddies’ movie, but the cinema, located in the East Village, is welcoming caregivers and their babies to a special “Rattle & Reel” screening beginning Wednesday, March 26.

Adults pay normal admission prices but all babies are Free! More information is on their website

“Nymphomaniac: Volume 2” arrives in theaters April 4, 2014, but both parts are available to view On Demand. (There will also be a 5-½ hour version, although no release date is announced for that yet.)

Danish director Lars von Trier’s sexcapade has gotten lots of press. I’ve seen both parts, and it’s as outrageous — and hilarious — as you may have heard. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’ve seen a Lars von Trier movie, whether it’s “Antichrist” or “Melancholia,” then you know what you’re getting into.

Last week the movie had its New York premiere at the highbrow Museum of Modern Art, where many of the stars walked the red carpet, including longtime von Trier collaborators Stellan Skarsgard and Charlotte Gainsbourg, along with Stacy Martin, who is making her movie debut, and Christian Slater and Uma Thurman, who worked with the controversial director for the first time.

Neither Shia LaBeouf, who has a starring role, nor director Lars von Trier, who took a vow of silence since he jokingly said “I’m a Nazi” at the Cannes Film Festival’s “Melancholia” press conference in 2011, showed up for the New York premiere. The director is also afraid of flying. As for LaBeouf, he has kept a low profile since the Berlin Film Festival, where he wore a bag over his head that read, “I am not famous anymore.”

The von Trier movie follows the life of a self-described nymphomaniac, Joe (Gainsbourg), from the time she is a very young girl until her mid 40’s (Martin plays her as a teenager and very young woman). A lonely, older bachelor, Seligman (Skarsgard), finds Joe in the alley of his apartment, bloody and badly beaten. He takes her home to give her tea and nurse her back to health.

While she is convalescing, Joe tells Seligman – who turns out to be a virgin — her sexual history, which he interrupts to offer his own opinions, like how the hunt for sex is like fly-fishing or making comparisons to Fibonacci numbers. (I didn’t know what Fibonacci numbers were either until I saw this movie.)

Click the images for larger views and sharing options. 

[justified_image_grid preset=1 lightbox=prettyphoto exclude=63866 load_more=scroll]

Some reviewers who’ve described the movie as being unintentionally funny don’t know the director’s work. He’s a provocateur, and the movie is hilarious and rich in political and social satire.

At the swanky after party for “Nymphomaniac” at Butter Midtown, I asked the beautiful 23-year-old star of the film if she realized how funny the script was when she first read it.

Martin, who wore a lovely Prada gown, told me that when she and Shia were filming, “We laughed out loud. He [von Trier] doesn’t make it that obvious, and that’s what makes it even funnier. Initially, you take the scene as something quite dramatic, especially the Uma Thurman scene, and then you watch and the humor comes out and it is funny and you feel so guilty for laughing and that makes you giggle even more so you’re in this ever ebbing circle.”

Thurman, who has a cameo as a wife dumped by her husband for Joe, has the funniest scene in the film. She brings her three tow-headed boys to Joe’s apartment and asks if she can show the boys “the whoring bed.”

I asked Martin, who is making her feature film debut, what she first thought when reading the script. “I loved it. It was very long, which I didn’t know back then because it was the first script I was ever sent. And I thought it was a standard thing and everyone was saying it’s really long, you don’t have to read it. And I said, ‘Oh I read it already. I love it.’ You really enter a universe. It’s like a real tale, and it’s incredible.”

There was a lot required of the actors, including many nudity scenes. “It’s quite difficult, but at that point, we were so used to it that you just do it,” Martin told me. “We believe in the film. It’s not like we’re doing it just to have fun. It’s a story and it’s part of the film, so it made it much easier.”

There’s lots of sex in the movie, but not by the actors.  It turns out they had porno stunt doubles, who had porn names. Tim Long was LaBeouf’s porno stunt double.

As for the scenes with explicit sex done by their doubles, Martin told me, “I would just leave once I did my part in the scene, and let the porno actors do what they had to do.”

The actors also wore prosthetic genitalia. Martin told me she didn’t keep her vagina prosthetic as a keepsake. “Afterwards it went straight into the trash.”

Skarsgard, who everyone on the red carpet referred to as the father of  “True Blood” actor Alexander Skarsgard, told me of working with von Trier on “Nymphomaniac,” “It’s a very interesting universe you enter. It has the qualities of a very thick 19th century novel.”

He also insisted von Trier is not anti-Semitic. The director made the Seligman character a secular Jew, Skarsgard told me, because both this character and Joe represent parts of von Trier. “He grew up Jewish. He thought he was Jewish until he was 30, when his mother told him that the guy you think is your father is not your father. It was his mother’s boss who actually was his father.” Yes it all sounds as wacky as situations you find in a von Trier movie, which is the point.

The Swedish actor, who is 62, told me the nudity and sex in the film wasn’t a big deal.

“I grew up with naked parents around me and I always walked naked in my home with my kids around, so sexuality and nakedness is nothing to me,” said Skarsgard. “But in this film, when I saw the 5 ½ hour version, after a while a penis entering an orifice is as natural as food entering your mouth.”

His next film will be a vast departure from this one. Skarsgard is starring as the Duke in Kenneth Branagh’s “Cinderella,” starring Lily James as the title character and Cate Blanchett as the evil stepmother. “That was fun,” Skarsgard said. “It’s not a fairy tale. It’s also about a really good girl.”

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here