Magazine article Variety

Lars Riffs on Greatest Hits

Magazine article Variety

Lars Riffs on Greatest Hits

Article excerpt

Like an issue of Playboy you read for the smut and the articles, Lars von Trier's indecently smart and provocative "Nymphomaniac" is predicated on the simple notion - familiar to devotees of D.H. Lawrence and E.L. James alike - that the mind is one hell of an erogenous zone. Bring a trenchcoat to the theater if you must, but more importantly, put on your thinking cap: This tightly focused, densely woven skein of literary, artistic, musical and cinematic allusions is a von Trier movie through and through, right down to its greatest-hits-style riffs on the director's own back catalog.

Such self-exploration, if you will, is hardly accidental, given that a bruised, bruising female sexuality has long been what von TYier's admirers might call a Larsmotif. When Joe, the sex addict of the title, gets her husband's permission to stray beyond the marriage bed, it's hard not to be reminded of "Breaking the Waves." And when she explores her desire for the Other with two African men, you may flash back to "Manderlay," which toyed no less daringly with the stereotype of the black male sexual aggressor. But the most obvious forerunner here is "Antichrist," not only in the presence of a sexually rapacious, ever-fearless Charlotte Gainsbourg, but in the way von TYier boldly reproduces that film's prologue, which crudely linked female pleasure with maternal neglect. …

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