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Nymphomaniac: Volume I(2013)
After he finds her bloodied and bruised in an alleyway, an older gentleman rescues Joe, a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac, and returns with her to his apartment. Over the course of the night, she recounts to him the story of her life, including her complicated relationship with her parents, how she lost her virginity, the many men she has seduced and the one man who might have been her true love.
For more about Nymphomaniac: Volume I and the Nymphomaniac: Volume I Blu-ray release, see Nymphomaniac: Volume I Blu-ray Review published by Dr. Svet Atanasov on May 3, 2014 where this Blu-ray release scored 4.0 out of 5.
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Connie Nielsen, Jesper Christensen
Director: Lars von Trier
» See full cast & crew
Nymphomaniac: Volume I Blu-ray Review
Reviewed by Dr. Svet Atanasov, May 3, 2014
Winner of Bodil Award for Best Actress, Lars von Trier's "Nymphomaniac Vol. I" (2013) arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye. The supplemental features on the disc include new video interviews with Charlotte Gainsbourg, Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin, and Stellan Skarsgard. In English, with optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. Region-B "locked".
The great Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard is Seligman, a middle-aged man who accidentally discovers a woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg, Antichrist, Melancholia) who appears to have had a serious accident. He offers to call an ambulance that would take her to a nearby hospital, but she refuses. Seligman then takes the woman to his place, where he offers her a cup of hot tea.
The two strangers begin talking. There are multiple bruises on Joe's face suggesting that it isn't easy for her to move her lips, but she does her best to answer Seligman's questions. Over the course of the night, she tells him about her life and a serious condition that has collapsed it.
Controversial Danish helmer Lars von Trier's latest film, Nymphomaniac, is broken into multiple episodes, each focusing on an important event from the life of its main protagonist. These events are introduced as uneven flashbacks, some of which are framed and shot in unique ways.
The first episodes are lighthearted and frequently surprisingly witty. In one of these episodes a young Joe and her best friend are seen entertaining each other while experimenting with their bodies. In another they are older, very comfortable with their bodies and eager to discover exactly how well they can manipulate men with suppressed sexual desires. There is plenty of humor in their 'competitions', but also some astonishingly accurate observations about men (of all ages) and their inability to distinguish lust from love.
The film gradually becomes darker after Joe explains how she has become addicted to sex, though splashes of playful humor routinely pop up. There is a fascinating element to this addiction. Joe clearly enjoys the physical contact, and specifically the sensation of giving and receiving pleasure, but it is the freedom to choose her partners and the realization that she can easily redirect their lives that fuel her addiction.
The most explicit sequences are done with doubles, but they are shot in a way that makes the sexual acts look bland and notably cold. The focus of attention is solely on the manner in which Joe and her partners describe their intimate feelings and emotions before and after the sexual acts. Many of these confessions offer some serious food for thought and at least as far as this reviewer is concerned effectively question whether Joe actually has an addiction problem.
Different flashbacks also produce fascinating observations about religion, morality, and various popular social norms. It is important to clarify, however, that von Trier does not attempt to promote specific views; rather he directs the viewer's attention to the areas of their 'logic' that have become vulnerable.
Stacy Martin, who plays the young Joe, is the heart and soul of Volume I. Her range of emotions is quite remarkable. Shia LaBeouf is very good as the self-absorbed businessman Jerome. Uma Thurman's time in front of the camera is limited, but she leaves a lasting impression as the shocked and angered Mrs. H. The beautiful Danish actress Connie Nielsen also has a small cameo as Joe's mother. Christian Slater is Joe's progressive but seriously sick father.
Nymphomaniac: Volume I Blu-ray, Video Quality
Presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, encoded with MPEG-4 AVC and granted a 1080p transfer, Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac: Vol. I arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of British distributors Artificial Eye.
Shot with the Arri Alexa camera, the film looks exceptionally crisp and smooth (only a few of the flashbacks have a grittier appearance). Depending on how light is captured occasionally some minor clarity fluctuations can be spotted, but image depth remains impressive (see screencaptures #2 and 3). Minor contrast fluctuations also exist, but they are even less noticeable (again, these fluctuations occur during some of the indoor footage where light is either restricted or subdued). Colors are solid and very natural, never appearing artificially boosted. There are no serious compression and encoding anomalies. Finally, there are absolutely no stability issues whatsoever. To sum it all up, this is an exceptionally strong technical presentation of Nymphomaniac that ranks amongst the very best in Artificial Eye's catalog. (Note: This is a Region-B "locked" Blu-ray release. Therefore, you must have a native Region-B or Region-Free PS3 or SA in order to access its content).
Nymphomaniac: Volume I Blu-ray, Audio Quality
There are two standard audio tracks on this Blu-ray release: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 and English LPCM 2.0. For the record, Artificial Eye have provided optional English SDH subtitles for the main feature. When turned on, they split the image frame and the black bar below it.
The film does not have a prominent soundtrack or impressive audio effects. Naturally, you should not expect strong surround movement -- random sounds and noises are easy to identify but there are no elaborate dynamic enhancements. Unsurprisingly, there isn't a massive gap in quality between the two lossless tracks. For the record, the dialog is consistently crisp, clean, and easy to follow.
Nymphomaniac: Volume I Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Nymphomaniac: Volume I Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
Nymphomaniac: Vol. I is easily one of the most engaging films Lars von Trier has directed in years. It visit places and tackles subjects most directors would not even consider with an authority that I find simply fascinating. But this should not be surprising as von Trier's films are always original, challenging, and above all very intelligent. Artificial Eye's technical presentation of Nymphomaniac: Vol. I is terrific. (Please note that the first film is sold together with Vol. 2. See our listing here). HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
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