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Movie review: Graphic and tedious sex in 'Nymphomaniac, Vol. I'

Published April 3, 2014 4:52 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Danish director Lars von Trier once again defies the odds with "Nymphomaniac, Vol. I" — by making a movie that makes sex boring.

The movie centers on Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who is left beaten in an alley. She's rescued by Sigelman (Stellan Skarsgaard), who listens intently as Joe tells of her numerous sexual conquests, which von Trier illustrates with flashbacks of explicit sexual content (with Stacy Martin portraying the younger Joe).

Through her repetitive and unromantic pursuit of lust — which Sigelman compares to fly-fishing — Joe has a recurring relationship with the one man (Shia LaBeouf) toward whom she admits romantic feelings.

Joe paints herself as morally bankrupt, but she ends up another one of von Trier's self-loathing females (Kirsten Dunst in "Melancholia," Emily Watson in "Breaking the Waves," Björk in "Dancer in the Dark" and so on). But her story feels incomplete, because it is, and we'll have to wait until "Nymphoniac, Vol. II," due later this month, to see how it turns out.

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'Nymphomaniac, Vol. I'

Opens Friday, April 4, at the Broadway Centre Cinemas; not rated, but probably NC-17 for explicit sexuality, nudity and language; 118 minutes.