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Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac: Movies, Sex and Booze [NSFW TRAILER]

In partnership with Mongrel Media, The Spoke Club hosted the exclusive Canadian premier of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac (Volume 1) at TIFF Bell Lightbox in downtown Toronto. I fought a devilish chest cold and rush hour traffic to be there for the advance screening, where myself, and perhaps 60 others, were the first Canadians to lay eyes on the controversial film.

WARNING: TRAILER IS NSFW

Lars von Trier, director behind films such as Dogville and Melancholia, is a certain twisted visionary whose synthesist for the disturbing and sentimental in this new picture is paralleled by no other. Having already dragged us through the ringer with heart-wrenching depression and visions of celestial spheres in Melancholia, he now takes us into the winding and “erotic” journey of a sex-mad woman “rebelling against love” in Nymphomaniac. Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg as older Joe and Shia LaBeouf as Jerome, Nymphomaniac has been heralded as the most sexually-graphic feature film ever made, perhaps making the sex scenes in the French Blue is the Warmest Color seem prudish, even at its most vulgar. Joe is found beaten and unconscious in a cold alley by Seligma (Stellan Skarsgård). He takes her to his apartment to rest and to be fed. It is there she begins her story of how, from childhood to adulthood, she becomes an unstoppable sex fiend, having sexual relations with up to 10 men a day all while still in her 20s. The young Joe (played by Stacy Martin) even goes so far to start a secret club with her friend B (Sophie Kennedy Clark) called The Little Flock, a group of young women whose one purpose is to find and fuck as many men as possible while banning any type of relationship or sentimental love with their unkowning partners. 

Nymphomaniac

Heavy with references and analogies, from fly fishing (the nymph fly is a common fly fishing bait) to the horrible, delerium-raddled death of Edgar Allan Poe, Nymphomaniac is an intellectual self-analysis of desire and behaviour. Joe struggles to understand her morally reprehensible acts of “sin” and why she destroyed so many men’s lives throughout her erotic tenure. But more than acting as a psychological microscope, Volume 1 is also surprisingly light-hearted and comical. From montages of penises, to split screens, and even the graphic acts of sex themselves, we are often left laughing at both the awkwardness of watching these images in a public setting, and at ourselves, as we can all strangely relate to the finer intimacies of making “love.” Nymphomaniac is not a shocking peep show. It’s a clever and self-revealing exploration of the humanness of each character, especially Joe, in the context of the most basic and primal act of human expression: sex. 

Nymphomaniac 2

Volume 1 ends as mysteriously and abruptly as it begins and we are all left wondering if Volume 2 will be just as comical. If the teaser scenes of Volume 2 showing during the closing credits are any indication, and, of course, they most certainly are, the next instalment to this 5.5 hour epic will be more dirty, graphic, painful and utterly grotesque than the first. Just after the film, the audience is invited to The Spoke Club for a Lindt Chocolate bar, burlesque servers and “sexy drinks.” While people attend, myself included, I feel myself contemplating the film while sipping a Jack Daniels neat, looking around aimlessly at the admirable attempt of The Spoke Club to make the experience as sexy as the movie we just saw. They usually say art imitates life. In this case, it’s the other way around. But for the mere price of $30, The Club certainly treats its patronage to a night that is pretty unforgettable for an otherwise boring Tuesday. Did I mention there is free booze via an open bar? Enough said.

Both Volume 1 and 2 of Nymphomaniac will be premiering in Canada March and April. Although I wouldn’t suggest bringing your kids, parents or grandparents to this sexual melodrama, it could end up a date of a lifetime with your open-minded spouse. If you’re a single cinephile, ignore the social protocol and go alone. Either way, a little advice: even when you think you have to look away from the screen, don’t. 

Nymphomaniac 3

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