Lars has built a multi-layered film which beautifully explores the tender relationship between a father and daughter, a wife launching a female diatribe of rage to prevent the family breaking up due to the man’s addictive extra marital relationship and an elderly bachelor who can relate to all the sexual exploits of the nymphomaniac to literature, music and medicine.
The film is a wild, poetic drama about a woman’s erotic journey for whom, sex is passion, pleasure and a relaxant. On a cold winter’s evening, an old man out to buy some consumables finds Joe on the way, bleeding. He brings her to his flat, attends to her wounds and offers to call an ambulance. But she decides to stay at his place and recounts her life to him, an erotic past full of ‘joie de vivre’. The old man connects the stories told in five chapters with what he has read about. The Compleat Angler, Jerôme, Mrs H, Delirium and The Little Organ School.
The film, naturally erotic is also emotionally moving when the daughter interacts with her father as a child and later as an adult in the hospital when he is terminally ill, when the wife confronts the paramour of her husband with her children with the man standing embarrassed like a statue. It is full of humour when the girl accosts her sexual partners and the last chapter when the old man and the girl talk of Bach and the music in three voices — the bass, left and right a piano which the girl transfers to three of her sex partners.
While Nymphomaniac can compare sex to literature and music, the German film Stations of the Cross takes the hardcore religious line that singing pop, jazz or rock could be a mortal sin. Here again, we have a young girl brought up on strict Christian values of sin, confession, sacrament and sacrifice. Between a preacher who tries to instil awe and fear along with love for god, a mother who strictly religious and tries to control the family, natural adolescent feelings for companionship and a desire to sacrifice her own self for the same of her younger sibling, the girl suffers, falls sick and ultimately dies. The film wonderfully brings out that extreme religious adherence may bring havoc to families.