When a bag of sweets is used as an elixir for gratuitous displays of sexuality, responses could fall either side of the net. Given the murky depths of Lars von Trier’s back-catalogue, Nymphomaniac is likely to repulse and provoke, infuriate and excite, and upset and entertain, depending on the individual.
Promotion for the Danish filmmaker’s controversial-before-release sexually-driven drama has been minimal, but expectedly baiting, established by its, ahem, suggestively minimalist poster.
Not one for conformity, the latest offering from von Trier, appearing on the film’s official website, is a brief, disconcerting teaser, in which Charlotte Gainsbourg is encouraged by a friend to coax commuters on a train into having sex with her in the toilets. Titled “The Compleat Angler”, the “appetizer” is accompanied by the following message:
“How does an ordinary bag of chocolate sweets become a symbol of sexual victory as Joe and her experienced friend B embark on a train trip, they bet on how many men they can seduce on the ride. The grand prize is a delicious bag of chocolate sweets, and it soon becomes clear to Joe that in order to win, she needs to lure the prey into biting the hook like a skilled fisherman.”
Staying true to von Trier’s auteristic style, the clip is framed as “Chapter 1”, with Nymphomaniac following a similar framework to Dogville (2003), Manderlay (2005) and Antichrist (2009).
Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgård, Stacy Martin, Shia LaBeouf, Jamie Bell, Christian Slater, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe, and Connie Nielsen, the film sees Gainsbourg’s Joe recount her sexual life-experiences to Skarsgård’s Seligman, who helps her recovery, after finding her beaten in an alley. [V]on Trier’s follow up to 2011’s apocalyptic drama, Melancholia, is set for release on 25th December, 2013, in Denmark, making the most of the Christmas demand for tales of hypersexuality.
The use of angling and sweets as metaphors for seduction and sex perhaps alludes to the diluted taboos which von Trier intends on throwing the spotlight upon, though it may also refer to a lost innocence. It is unlikely, however, that confectionery will take centre-stage.
What are your thoughts on the promotion thus far for Nymphomaniac? Will the film combine shock with substance? Leave your comments below.