×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Nymphomaniac Vol. 1’ Review: Bigger, Longer and Uncut

The unedited version of Lars von Trier's shagnum opus is somewhat more explicit than its whittled-down predecessor but structurally similar.

Between director Lars von Trier’s custom “persona non grata” T-shirt and star Shia LaBeouf’s press-conference walkout and paper-bag mask, “Nymphomaniac Vol. 1” generated at least as much attention offscreen as it did on Sunday afternoon at the Berlin Film Festival. Meanwhile, inside the packed 1,600-seat Berlinale Palast, audiences got their first look at the bigger, longer and uncut version of von Trier’s magnum opus — or, at least, the first part of it, with the uncut “Vol. 2” expected to premiere at another high-profile festival sometime later in the year.

And there was quite a lot more to see — 30 minutes’ worth, to be exact — of the Danish director’s bifurcated magnum opus, compared with the edited version released commercially in Europe last December and screened at the Sundance Film Festival last month. But both in the lobby following the screening and on social media afterward, many critics — including this one — were at a loss to itemize exactly which scenes and sequences had been augmented for this director’s cut. “Was the Proust joke there before?” asked one colleague, while another suggested that an early shot of the Norse mythological god Odin sitting in a tree might have been a new addition.

One thing everyone could agree on: The longer “Vol. 1” includes a modicum of more explicit sexual footage, most conspicuously during an episode of oral sex on a moving train that now features a screen-filling closeup of an ejaculating penis where none was before. An erect member belonging either to Mr. LaBeouf or his body double also makes a more prominent appearance during the end-of-“Vol. 1” sex scene in which the movie’s titular heroine, Joe (played as a young woman by newcomer Stacy Martin and, in middle age, by Charlotte Gainsbourg), loses all feeling … down there.

SEE MORE: 3View: A Three-Way Take on ‘Nymphomaniac’ by Variety Critics

Among less sensational additions, a visit by Joe to her dying father (Christian Slater) has been significantly expanded. Alas, it appears that von Trier had already used every available frame of “Vol. 1’s” most showstopping encounter — the confrontation of Joe by one of her lovers’ jilted wife (Uma Thurman) — the first time around. Hell hath no fury like a woman dumped for a sex addict.

Structurally, however, the two versions of the film are the same, meaning audiences who see the shorter “Vol. 1” in general release or on VOD when it opens in the U.S. this spring needn’t feel they’re missing out on all that much (compared with, say, movies like “Heaven’s Gate” and “Once Upon a Time in America” that had entire hours shorn from them for mass-audience consumption). In either edit, the movie remains a ferociously entertaining experience in which one finds von Trier at the peak of his craft, linking together ideas about female sexuality, fly-fishing and artistic creation with equal amounts of playfulness and intellectual rigor. As one surprised journalist told the cast (and, by extension, their absent director) at the press conference, “It was a lot more fun than we expected.”

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    Film Review: 'QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight'

    In one of the intermittent revealing moments in “QT8: Quentin Tarantino, The First Eight,” a documentary about the films of Quentin Tarantino that’s like a familiar but tasty sundae for Quentin fans, we see Tarantino on the set of “Pulp Fiction,” shooting the iconic dance contest at Jack Rabbit Slim’s. As John Travolta and Uma [...]

  • Zombieland Double Tap

    Why Emma Stone Was Haunted by Fear of Vomiting While Shooting 'Zombieland: Double Tap'

    SPOILER ALERT: The following story contains a slight spoiler for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” The zombie slayers are back! Ten years after Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg and Abigail Breslin first killed dead people walking in “Zombieland,” they’ve reunited for “Zombieland: Double Tap.” “You take stock of your life a little bit,” Stone says of [...]

  • Hereditary

    The Best Horror Films to Stream Right Now

    Good horror movies aren’t always easy to scare up, but with Halloween on the horizon, Variety has compiled a list of some of the best horror films available on Netflix, Amazon Prime and Hulu. NETFLIX Apostle Cult horror meets religious hypocrisy in this creepy gothic thriller, which follows prodigal son Thomas Richardson, who returns home [...]

  • Brett Gelman

    'Stranger Things' Star Brett Gelman Joins Michael B. Jordan in 'Without Remorse'

    Brett Gelman, best known for his scene-stealing roles in “Fleabag,” “Stranger Things” and “Love,” has joined Michael B. Jordan in Paramount’s adaptation of Tom Clancy’s “Without Remorse.” Jamie Bell and Jodie Turner-Smith are also on board. Jordan is starring as operations officer John Clark, also known as John Terrence Kelly, a former Navy SEAL who [...]

  • US director Francis Ford Coppola holds

    Francis Ford Coppola Honored With Prestigious Lumiere Prize by Thierry Fremaux, Bong Joon Ho

    Francis Ford Coppola took the stage to claim the Lumière Festival’s lifetime achievement honor, the Lumière Prize, in a stirring celebration that marked the festival’s 10th edition on Friday night in Lyon, France. The four-time Academy Award winner accepted the prize after a series of video tributes, musical performances and testimonials from family, friends and [...]

  • 'Human Capital' Sells to Vertical Entertainment,

    Liev Schreiber, Maya Hawke's 'Human Capital' Sells Rights to DirecTV, Vertical Entertainment (EXCLUSIVE)

    Vertical Entertainment and DirecTV have jointly acquired the North American distribution rights to “Human Capital,” an official selection of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival from director Marc Meyers. The film stars Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, Liev Schreiber, Peter Sarsgaard, and Maya Hawke. The ensemble drama follows numerous interconnected stories surrounding a hit and run, [...]

  • Robert Zemeckis

    Robert Zemeckis in Talks to Direct Live-Action 'Pinocchio' for Disney (EXCLUSIVE)

    Robert Zemeckis is in early talks to direct Disney’s live-action “Pinocchio.” Andrew Miano and Chris Weitz will produce through their company Depth of Field with Weitz penning the script. “Paddington” director Paul King had originally been tapped to direct but had to leave the project for unknown reasons at the beginning of the year. David [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content