The pic’s unspooling kicked off the DIRE days, a five-day confab allowing French distributors to present upcoming releases to theater exhibitors. The screening was hosted by Les Films du Losange, “Nymphomaniac”‘s French distributor, Marianne Slot at Slot Machine, the Paris-based co-producer, and Zentropa, the Danish indie powerhouse which lead-produced the movie.
“We’ve just finalized the edit of the first part so it was a great opportunity to show the film to exhibitors before its release, and we’re big fans of Les Arcs,” said Slot, who’s collaborated with von Trier since “Breaking The Waves.”
Reactions to “Nymphomaniac” ran a wide gamut and were mostly upbeat.
“Self-references and even private jokes suggest ‘Nymphomaniac’ is like the missing link between ‘Antichrist’ and ‘Melancholia.’ In ‘Nymphomaniac’ the sex scenes make the wonderful ‘La vie d’Adele’ (‘Blue Is The Warmest Color’) by Kechiche look like a sentimental trifle. But sex is really secondary,” said Eric Garandeau, former president of France’ national film board, CNC, who is still involved in the media landscape as a consultant in cinema and audiovisual policies. “‘Nymphomaniac’ is once again – and in a broader Proustian or Nietzschean way — a beautiful art work about the absolute loneliness that humankind experiences because God is dead.”
Slot concurred. “As always with von Trier’s movies, it’s difficult to get a clear and unanimous feedback because his movies are far from being consensual, but based on the early press and professionals’ reactions, we’re getting a sense that ‘Nymphomaniac’ might be considered as one of his best films.”
Variety’s Peter Debruge acknowledged the film’s strengths in his review: “Racy subject aside, the film provides a good-humored yet serious-minded look at sexual self-liberation, thick with references to art, music, religion and literature, even as it pushes the envelope with footage of acts previously relegated to the sphere of pornography.”
One less enthusiastic opinion expresssed at Les Arcs on “Nymphomaniac” – a comment made in some quarters about “Blue” – was that it offered a male vision of sexuality.
“It was a wonderful surprise Les Arcs festival offered to professionals last night. It turned everybody ‘NymphomaniArcs’ quipped the festival’s co-founder Pierre-Emmanuel Fleurantin. Added Frederic Boyer, Les Arcs’ artistic director and Tribeca programmer, “It was quite fun and unusual to show the film for the first time inside Europe’s most elevated screening room perched at 2,000 meters in altitude.”
Margaret Menegoz’ Les Films du Losange will release “Nymphomaniac”‘s first part in France on Jan. 1 across 150 screens, a fairly large roll-out for an arthouse pic in France. Zentropa will release it in Denmark on Dec. 25. Magnolia Pictures will distribute it Stateside on March 21 with the second part set for an April 18 release.
Slot also said that “Nymphomaniac”‘s second part is set to have its first industry screening at Premier Plan festival in Angers, where von Trier will be celebrated with a career tribute and a film retrospective attended by his close collaborators.
The screenings in Les Arcs and Angers’ Premier Plan (which runs Jan. 17-26) won’t spoil the movie’s chances of world-premiering at a major film festival since it’s not the director’s cut.
Lars von Trier’s five-and-a-half-hour cut will be completed in late January or early February and could play at Berlin Film Festival, per Slot.
Les Arcs European Film Festival wraps Dec. 21.
John Hopewell contributed to this report.