There was a lot of buzz surrounding Lars Von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac’ before it first released, but what else would you expect from a film that was promoted using phrases like “unsimulated sex scenes”, “Digital body doubles” and, well, the title itself. When the trailer of the movie had originally premiered, it went viral for its portrayal of close up sex scenes that no one had ever seen before. And Shia LaBeouf‘s appearance in a film after a long hiatus further increased the hype.
Now there is a very fine line between porn and cinematic sex scenes, or is there? Movies like ‘Nymphomaniac’ cross that line a lot of times but somehow still manage to stay well within it, which makes them look like art and not mainstream porn. But if ‘Nymphomaniac’ has gone so far, how dirty is it? We can’t really give you a well-defined measure on a scale of 1 to 10 but we can tell you that it is quite dirty. Of course, if you compare it with most movies of today, then apart from the volume of sex scenes that it holds, the scenes are not incredibly dirty and stay within the confinements of what one would call art. And being the story of a sex addict, the number of sex scenes it portrays are normal.
There’s no denying that this 4-hour film can make other mainstream adult films like ‘Fifty shades of Grey’ and ‘American Pie’ look like Mary Poppins but then does it really go that far? Most of the buzz created around the movie was about the fact that some of the greatest stars like Uma Thruman, Jamie Bell, and Shia LaBeouf were involved in all the close up unsimulated sex scenes in the film. But this was later dismissed when eventually it was announced that porn doubles were being used for most of these scenes. So what does it come down to? There is no denying that Trier is indeed a very creative filmmaker, even though a lot of times, his experiments tend to go way beyond what is acceptable. But that’s what creativity is all about, right? Defying the common norm and creating something no one has ever seen before.
When it comes to bold, explicit, provocative cinema, a lot of us might really look forward to watching it for the “art” that it has to offer while others might just watch it out of curiosity (something like ‘Fifty Shades‘). There would also be some out there who would just want to experiment with something that is porn and not-so-porn at the same time. Whatever your reasons may be, we’ve decided to list down all the scenes of this incredibly provocative film just for you. These scenes have been ranked on the basis of their artistic quality and explicitness. Here’s the list of top steamy scenes from ‘Nymphomaniac’.
8. The First Time (Nymphomaniac Vol. 1)
A lot of people may think otherwise and that’s okay, but ‘Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1‘ is a lot milder than you would expect it to be. The common belief about the film that goes around amongst the ones who have not seen it is that the movie just has constant sex scenes from start to end, which is not at all true. There is a copious amount of sex throughout but not enough to be called porn for a 148-minute film. Also, the lack of titillation suggests that this is no way even close to what we call porn.
This scene is the first time the protagonist Joe has sex with Shia LaBeouf’s character Jerome. She asks Jerome to take her virginity and that’s when Jerome enters the room and asks her to lie down on her back. Chalkboard equations appear on the screen with the number of times Joe gets humped. The two actors Stacy Martin and Shia LaBeouf are only half-naked in this one and nothing very graphic can be seen here. It’s something you would see in any other mainstream R-rated Hollywood movie. With no emotions or feelings of arousal, Jerome has sex with Joe with the sole intention of just breaking her virginity. He then turns her and finishes. Sexy is one word that could never define this scene. In fact, one would struggle to come up with a word that could aptly describe this scene.
7. A Series of Scenes With Different Men (Nymphomaniac Vol. 1)
This is where the film starts to get a lot more real and graphic with sex. We get to see a series of scenes, all shown in a parallel simulation where Joe, the main character, has sex with different men. All of these scenes are shot in different places and are probably the homes of those men. You can clearly see that there is real unsimulated sex with the obvious involvement of the body doubles and in the smaller picture, all you can see is a promiscuous woman sleeping with multiple men and normalizing sex.
However, in the bigger picture, this scene, or let’s say, the series of scenes, portray something more. It shows how we normally talk about sex and at times we even lie about it. There’s no doubt that all of it shows the movie’s interest towards sex in general but the end of all these series of scenes points in the direction of one common question — how do we incorporate sex into our identity? When Joe is done having sex with all of these men, the film again goes through a parallel simulation where she tells each one of them that there’s something she wants to tell them. She then goes on to say that it may not be important for them but the fact that she had her first orgasm with them means a lot to her. She says this to each of them, which clearly implies that she’s lying about it.
6. The Train Scene (Nymphomaniac Vol. I)
After Joe loses her virginity, she starts off her quest to have as much sex as she can along with another partner in crime who is even more daring than her. This friend of hers keeps coming up with sexual challenges for both of them and announces their next challenge as to having sex with as many men as they can on a train they are on. This is when Joe discovers how easy it is for her to lure men into having sex with her and describes this incident in terms of her learning curve that shoots upwards as she has sex with more men. The two women are cold towards their sex adventure and the only thing that matters to them is the number. They don’t even know what they’re doing in this act of kamikaze boldness and yet they’re just doing it.
Joe has sex with many different men mostly in the washroom of the train and for her, it almost looks like she feels nothing during those calculative moments. Their train adventure ends with Joe walking up to a businessman on the train and unzipping his pants while he begs her to stop. This oral sex scene is as real as it gets and this one does go a little beyond mainstream cinema. But even then it’s clear that the intention of the movie is not to raise a judgmental eye towards Joe but it’s to represent how the older Joe who is narrating this story judges her younger version.
5. The Polyphony of Love (Nymphomaniac I)
Seligman, played by Stellan Skarsgard, starts explaining Joe about the polyphony of music where there is a Bass voice, a left hand and a right hand, and all three of these are melodies of their own but together they are in harmony. He even relates it to the Fibonacci series and its relation to the Pythagoras. He then plays IICH RUF ZU DIR, HERR JESUS CHRIST by J.S Bach which is polyphony and also conveys what he was trying to explain.
That’s when Joe starts to explain the ideology behind the polyphony of her sex life and how all the sexual partners she has had together just sum up to one lover. She starts by telling the story of F who was one of the 7-8 sexual partners she had each night and also the bass of her polyphony. F was different and he would wait for her an hour before their meeting. He would know exactly what to do and where to touch her to satisfy her. This scene contains some very graphic oral sex just to prove how great F was at pleasing Joe. She then goes on to talk about G who was the only sex partner who would make her wait and had the aura of a leopard. He did things his way and all of that made him very attractive in Joe’s eyes. The third melody of her polyphony was her childhood lover Jerome and that’s how all three of those together work in harmony to complete her as a nymphomaniac. But right after this, the film ends abruptly when Joe finds herself at a crossroad of her sexual journey. What started off as an awakening now starts to feel numb and Joe finally feels no pleasure at all.
4. The Numbing, It Stays (Nymphomaniac II)
‘Nymphomaniac II‘ begins exactly where the first one left off as Joe continues to talk to Seligman about her past sexual experiences. She starts off by telling him how her first orgasm was “spiritual” in a way when she was 12 years old. Then she continues where she had ended her story with Jerome. The numbness of her sexual sensations continued and no matter how she tried to bring it back with Jerome, she just couldn’t. There’s a very graphic scene here where she tries to have sex with Jerome but somehow Jerome is not able to keep up with her. He suggests that maybe she should look for other sexual partners outside their marriage in order to “feed the tiger”.
Read More: Shocking Movies About Sexual Assault
3. Going Beyond (Nymphomaniac II)
To get her sex life back, Joe decides to go beyond what she had been doing and tries something new. She gets in touch with a translator who helps her interact with a black man and eventually asks him if he would be interested in having sex. The black man invites her to a place and he brings his brother along with him. They start off with a threesome — a very graphic scene, I must say (body doubles, for sure) — but mid-way through it, the men start arguing about something and that’s when she decides to leave. This, too, does not change anything for her but it makes her realize that she needs to go beyond what she thinks she is capable of in order to get things back to how they were.
2. Going Even Further (Nymphomaniac II)
The scenes that follow can get very painful and disturbing to watch for a normal person. Joe opts to go see a sadist who performs acts of masochism. She calls him K (Jamie Bell) and he seems to show no desire towards having sex with her. All he wants to do is cause pain through his punishing methods and he calls that “business.” He initially denies her the privilege of being her client by saying that it may not really be something for her. But after looking at her sheer determination and consistency, he decides to take her in. She describes these incidents by questioning the origin of all our sexual tendencies. The fact that she felt satisfied throughout the process of pain in K’s room seems really strange to her and Seligman agrees to all of it. This conversation also sparks the idea of pedophilia in the weirdest ways and all of it just seems off. ‘Nymphomaniac II’ as a whole is one weird movie and unlike its predecessor, which is more relaxed in tone, it is much bolder and provocative.
Read More: Best Sex Scenes of 21st Century
1. The Ending (Nymphomaniac II)
Sad, depressing, disappointing and yet, unsurprising — all these words very well define the ending of the film. Depressing because by the end when you finally expect to see some hope for Joe, she is again back to her old life of betrayal where she is materialized. Throughout the film, the Seligman we see is the Seligman from Joe’s perspective. He seems like a decent man who only means good with no desire of having sex with her. But what we see in the end is his true identity when he tries to rape her and gets shot. For most people, this ending was rather disappointing because even after investing 4 hours into it, Lars Von in the end just says “SCREW YOU!” to all of our expectations. Even then, considering his previous work, what more could we have expected?
Read More: Best American Pie Nude Scenes