Find myself in the middle of the night taunted by the need to say some words, and certainly more than the ones I’m going to share right now. So rather than pass out and potentially have a good sleep for myself, will release some of those words and talk about Nymphomaniac, which I finished watching some hours ago with some company. Twas an uncomfortable experience as expected, but not in the ways I originally thought it would be.
My want to see this film stems from how bizarre it felt to me. A 4 hour movie that heavily featured unsimulated sex in the visual medium of film? That’s gotten not only into theaters, but on Netflix? It felt dangerous and thus exciting, so why not see what the buzz was all about. No, that’s not all of what drew me in, but also the fact it was the work of Lars von Trier. I’ve unknowingly seen a few of his films before I even know who he was, and thanks to additional pushing from Brows Held High, seeing what made Nymphomaniac more than just a porn felt important to me.
And thus we speak on the marketing of this film, which enjoyed sharing the supposed sexual nature of the movie. While it is a sexual experience, the amount of which you would come upon didn’t feel as intense as the marketing, or matched the expectations of unsimulated sex it promised. No, the lot of that would happen in the Director’s Cut, which got on Netflix some time before the film viewing. We committed to the time for the original cut, however, and I have no reservations about seeing the Director’s Cut at a future time. I just need to be willing to cut a piece out of me to commit, because that’s a 6 hour experience with uncertainty of how different it should be from the original. Again, marketing.
But the sex, nudity, genitals, etc. felt more like side effects than of any importance to what was happening in the film. It was more about discussing the feels and connections around actions being taken, an idea pounded in by the dialogue between Joe and Seligman. Which by the way was fascinating and fun to see the banter play out, along with the insights they each provided. It was a tale with curious visuals and sounds, having you question the choices of the director, and comprehending a life filled with misery. Where was any of this portrayed in the advertisements?
My main frustration with the marketing comes from the act I was having trouble figuring out who would want to watch such a film with me. It was an anxiety trigger, having to think on who to contact and how to properly present the film to them without freaking them out. The resulting conversations that played in my head were overwhelming, especially with the issues I would normally have. As a result, the effort of root tending with others was small, resulting in not many knowing of the function and having a smaller turn out.
Exceptionally thankful for those whom I did manage to speak with and coerce on giving Nymphomaniac a chance, because the film was more enjoyable for it. But had I known the true nature of what was to be seen, you can be dang sure a lot more people would have known and especially seen. The amount of worry I gave should have been reserved for Where The Dead Go To Die, which I hope to share with company at some point as well. As strange as it sounds, this film felt “normal” to me, and when I’m free of my insecurities and self loathing, I’m all about sharing what feels “normal” to me with the world. Which is some bizarre stuff, so don’t let the word “normal” fool you.
So Nymphomaniac has been insightful to me about my mannerisms. It was insightful as a film in general. I can see where others would have complaint, such as YMS does to humorous effect (with plenty of spoilers as well, so be wary of his review), but I’m not one to be snarky and overtly critical. Rather than bitch about how Nymphomaniac isn’t golden toast, I enjoy seeing films and seeing them made. Lars attempted something dangerous and I commend him for that. On the full story of what the film is trying to fill us with, I await the analysis of those with knowledge of the culture and science necessary to do so. But being Nymphomaniac is the third part of the Depression Trilogy, we at least know where to start.
Everyone wants to be appreciated. To have others see you, and be there with you through the moments of loneliness we experience. Actually reminded of another film I’ve recently seen, a documentary detailing a performance art exhibit called The Artist Is Present. In it, Marina Abramović would have visitors sit in front of her and she would just look at them, acknowledging their presence with constant eye contact. The experience of being seen so thoroughly by her left many people in tears, because no one takes the time to do that in everyday life. We are alone in the shells of our bodies, hardly paying notice to each other as we live our lives.
Joe of Nymphomaniac was filled with this loneliness as well, given form through her nymphomania and need of others to bring her to ecstasy. And when depression finally falls upon Joe, it’s as heartbreaking as any true depression could be: It compromises your choices, drives away those closest to you, and makes you a social pariah. Nymphomaniac is an uncomfortable film, but an honest one. It’s depressing but there are moments of laughter (dark that it may be), and especially wonder upon the world and the people within it. That’s what I can gather from my feelings on the film, at least at this time.
And it’s really all I can put together in my head right now, via a combination of being physically tired and tired of just staring at the screen. There is a lot more that’s going on with this film, such as talk about how Lars is Joe, but I’m not even going to touch that. Leave it to the film analysts for now, and I’ll ponder the idea of eventually seeing the Director’s Cut.