There are times, not many, when you sit in a theatre, the lights go down, the movie begins and you just know that you're about to see something special and that you're in very good hands.
That's exactly the way I felt from the first frame of Lars von Trier's 'Nymphomaniac-Volume 1.'
In my opinion, this is his best film and definitely my favorite. I absolutely loved this movie.
The film starts out with a man named Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard) walking home, carrying a bag of groceries. It's night and it's raining. He comes across a woman, Joe (the extraordinary Charlotte Gainsbourg) lying beaten and unconscious in an alley.
He gently touches her and she opens her eyes. The man asks if she wants to go to a hospital and she refuses. She instead asks for a cup of tea. Seligman takes her back to his apartment, put her in bed and steeps her a pot of tea.
Joe than proceeds to tell Seligman about her life from childhood to young adulthood and through a series of flashbacks. And Stellan is in for a shock.
You see, as the title suggests, Joe is a Nymphomaniac. We see her sexual rampage started at an early age, as we are privvy to a scene where she pleasures herself on bathroom floor with her best friend by her side.
As she grew older, Joe (played by first time actress, Stacy Martin) would have as many as 15 sexual encounters in one day.
Sex for Joe, was not just about pleasure...It was something she could not do without. It didn't matter how many people she hurt, how many marriages she destroyed...She had to have it. Joe was addicted.
Why did Joe have such a profound need for sex? Maybe it had to do with her her cold, distant mother (Connie Nielsen) who would spend neglectful hours playing Solitaire.
Her father (Christian Slater) seemed nice enough, taking her on long walks in the woods, when she was a young girl. It was during these walks, that he would teach Joe the names of the different trees and where she experienced sensation for the first time; the wind on her face and the smell of the leaves.
Joe is a woman that is unable to form lasting relationships or any kind of emotional attachment. She tells Seligman over and over again that she's a very bad person, while he compares her sexual experiences to fly fishing, Bach and higher math.
Even though, Joe is a woman that you can't take your eyes off. she's also profoundly lonely and sad - but 'Nymphomaniac Volume 1' is anything but sad and that's thanks to Von Trier's brilliant direction and writing, The film is complex, compelling and highly erotic.
Yes, there is a lot of sex: oral, anal, and everything in between but the film is not pornography on any level. At the same time, it's not a movie for everyone. I wouldn't recommend it to my grandmother or my mother but then again, I wouldn't recommend 'Transformers' to them either.
Rounding out an incredible cast is Uma Thurman, as a scorned wife. This is Miss Thurman's best performance in a very long time. In fact, she almost steals the film. Shia LaBeouf (Jerome) plays Joe's first sexual partner and despite his not so great English accent, he's kind of interesting.
I gave 'Nymphomaniac Volume 1' my highest bagel rating: 5 out of 5 and I think if John saw the film, he's rating would be right up there with mine.
'Nymphomaniac Volume 1' opens in select theatres, Friday March 21, 2014 and ON DEMAND. If you're a fan of Von Trier or just want to see a film that is unique, then this is definitely one you don't want to miss.
Check out the Two Jews On Film video for more of my thoughts and witty observations.