Charlotte Gainsbourg Willing to Go Hardcore for Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac’

Anyone who saw the disturbing things actress Charlotte Gainsbourg was willing to do in Antichrist to get director Lars von Trier’s vision up on the screen knows that she isn’t a shy woman. But it turns out we may have just explored the tip of the iceberg when it comes to how far she will go for her art. Variety is reporting that Gainsbourg is in talks, once again, to star in a von Trier film, and this one will be his look at the sexual development of a woman from birth to age fifty, called Nymphomaniac.

Von Trier’s upcoming erotic epic is said to be broken up into eight chapters and will be filmed with two different cuts in mind, a more softcore version to get wider distribution, and a hardcore version that will be made, well, just because I guess. When this project was first announced, von Trier explained his approach to Entertainment Weekly by saying, “As a cultural radical I can’t make a film about the sexual evolution of a woman from zero to 50 without showing penetration. I know it’s something very European. However, that doesn’t mean it will be a porn film. It principally it is a film with a lot of sex in it and also a lot of philosophy.”

This is pretty much my problem with von Trier’s movies in a nutshell. You always have to struggle with whether there is any real artistic merit in what he’s doing, or if he’s just trying to shock his audience and get a reaction like a little child throwing a temper tantrum. While I don’t deny that he’s a talented man who has made some more than worthwhile stuff, I often come down on the side that says he’s just an antagonist (a position that looks even stronger after the circus he caused at Cannes this year).

If Nymphomaniac needs to show hardcore sex acts to fully realize its concept and to affect its viewers in the intended way, then that’s fine. I’m no prude or censor. But what does it say that two different cuts of the film are going to be made? If the story can be told in a softcore version that doesn’t feature penetration, then what is the point of filming the hardcore stuff at all? Once again, it seems to me that von Trier is acting out in an attempt at stirring the cultural pot, and it’s starting to look like Gainsbourg is one of his enablers.

What say you, reader? Are you looking forward to seeing Gainsbourg get dorked on film, or do you wish von Trier would focus his considerable talents more on making good movies and less on being a “cultural radical”?

Weaned on the genre films of the 80s. Reared by the independent movement of the 90s. Earned a BA for writing stuff in the 00s. Reviews current releases at

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