Lars Von Trier — the enfant terrible that gave us such difficult, devastating and quite wonderful works as "Breaking the Waves" (1996), "Dancer in the Dark" (2000) and "Antichrist" (2009) — is back ... and behaving as badly as ever.
Von Trier's latest cinematic offering is "Nymphomaniac" a two-volume (!) examination of the (sex) life of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg, back for her third go-round with Von Trier). Her tale unfolds in a series of flashbacks as she recounts her experiences to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard, back for his sixth go-round with Von Trier), a charming bachelor who takes her in after he finds her beaten up in an alley.
The trailer for "Volume I" shows Joe discovering her identity and embracing her destiny as someone who's great in the sack as a teenager, where she's played by Gainsbourg's uncanny younger doppelganger, Stacy Martin. From there, Joe takes several lovers as she grows into young adulthood (and, indeed, starts "having trouble remembering who was who"), including Shia LaBeouf, last seen with a bag on his head at the film's screening at the Berlin International Film Festival.
Whilst "Antichrist" and "Melancholia" (2011) divided audiences with their explorations of depression and self-destruction, "Nymphomaniac: Volume 1" seems to be a full-blown crowd-pleaser, with many critics praising it as a return to form for Lars Von Trier. In fact, as of this posting, the film has a unanimous 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Scott Foundas of Variety calls it "a ferociously entertaining experience" in which one finds the filmmaker "at the peak of his craft," while Brian Tallerico at Film Threat calls it "playful, strange and unexpected."
Meanwhile, Sophie Monks Kaufman of Little White Lies describes it a "invigorating, profound and occasionally baffling viewing," and Mark Adams of Screen International says that while it's "provocative, funny, smart, wry and challenging (though never sexy)," it is also "a remarkable project brimming with bold and often thoughtful performances."
All this, and a song from German industrial band Rammstein in the trailer. Sold!