“Perhaps the only difference between me and other people is that I've always demanded more from the sunset.” So says Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), the heroine of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac, the first of two volumes of which has recently been released theatrically here in the U.S. She’s speaking to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), a quiet, middle-aged stranger who has brought her back to his home after discovering her lying battered and bruised in a nearby alley. Like a foundling in an eighteenth-century novel, she proceeds to recount her life story to Seligman, whose bed doubles as a therapist’s couch. Joe’s narrative is a sexual picaresque, the first half of which spans her earliest sexual memories to a chance reunion with her first lover, Jerome (Shia LeBoeuf). Joe self-identifies as a nymphomaniac; the operative word in her statement about the sunset is “more.” But she’s less certain about whether her insatiable sexual appetite has brought her more pleasure than pain.
Things have been quiet here at Primal Scenes these past several weeks, mainly due to my being preoccupied with other personal and professional stuff, coupled with the post-awards-season fatigue that usually settles in at this time of the year. I’ve been doing a fair amount of home viewing lately, but it’s been mostly odds and ends, and the films have been mostly forgettable. Meanwhile, as many of you likely know, February and March mean slim pickins at the movie theater. (I do, however, eagerly anticipate the release of Volumes I and II of Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac.)