It takes a lot to cause the film world to explode in collective uproar, but Danish director Lars von Trier has become a master at it. His latest offering, Nymphomaniac, arrives in American theaters in two volumes this spring—the first debuting on March 21—and has already become a lightning rod of controversy.
The film follows the exploits of a self-diagnosed sex addict as she recounts a life of sexual adventures, misadventures and erotic explorations. Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as Joe, the titular nymphomaniac who’s brought back to the home of Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård) after he finds her bruised and beaten in an alleyway. Along the way to recovery, Joe regales Seligman with the explicit tales, told in flashbacks from birth to age 50, of her sexual history.
The subject matter would warrant controversy for its own sake, but Nymphomaniac will further cloud the boundary between pornography and art because it’ll include scenes of hardcore, unsimulated sex. The all-star cast will only pretend to have sex, but the genitals of body doubles will be digitally added to the scenes.
In other words, get ready to see the aforementioned Gainsbourg and Skarsgård, along with William Dafoe, Uma Thurman, Connie Nielson, Shia LaBeouf and others having (seemingly) real, hardcore sex with each other.
The CGI will be so indiscernible that every blowjob and insertion will seamlessly blend with the actors’ bodies. Even though the actual name-brand actors themselves aren’t physically having sex on camera, the usage of body doubles in such a prolonged and graphic manner is unprecedented in a mainstream film.
Even the promotional materials for the film aren’t shying away from the suggestive subject matter; each star is topless (albeit any potential nudity is covered by long hair) and giving their best climactic “O” face in their own poster, and the official trailer contains tons of nudity, simulated sex, an in-progress and fully visible blowjob, and one young female actress leaning back and letting semen dribble down her chin.
Unsimulated sex isn’t a completely foreign concept in mainstream filmmaking, but Nymphomaniac will up the ante by showcasing the hardcore sex acts with an all-star cast and in the highest profile sexually explicit film of our time. —Dominick Grillo
Check out part 1 of Nymphomaniac on March 21 and the very NSFW trailer below.