Lars von Trier's audacious four-hour fuck fest concerns a solitary German man (Stellan Skarsgard) who finds a brutalized young woman (Charlotte Gainsbourg) in an alley and shelters her in his apartment; as she recovers, she tells him the story of her nymphomaniacal past, dramatized in flashbacks. The copious pornographic sequences are elevated by the two characters' ongoing intellectual discourse as they ponder the woman's lifelong pursuit of the big O, though the practical question hanging over the story is whether this kindly old gentleman will wind up joining her long list of partners. The shocker ending struck me as both gimmicky and ill motivated, but up until then this confirms von Trier as the cinema's most accomplished provocateur, turning his attention here to the eternal conflict between pleasure and morality. The theatrical version screens in two parts of roughly equal length; with Shia LaBeouf, Christian Slater, Connie Nielsen, and Uma Thurman.
By J.R. Jones