‘I Cant Feel Anything’


I have always considered Lars Von Triers movies excessively apocalyptic in the most black humour sense imaginable. Its like as though he premises every story with a worst case scenario and pushes it to the limit to see what might happen. He does movies about the end of all life on Earth or  horrific Injuries of loved ones or parents dealing with the accidental death of a child or the consequences of living with nymphomania. Having  watched a few of them already, I sat down to watch this one with a certain apprehension. The thing about sexual addiction is that its an unknown. No one really know what the origins of the addiction is, in this case the addiction is that of a person having between seven to ten sexual encounters a day as well as having a full time job, but the nymphomaniac, played by Charlotte Gainsborough (and her younger self by Stacy Martin), is deeply concerned about the havoc and destruction her behaviour has wreaked  upon others, a pattern of behaviour she felt unable to stop. Her foil in this lengthy story telling is Stellan Skarsgård, who plays an excessively open-minded intellectual who ruminates endlessly on fly fishing, the prose of Edgar Allan Poe, and in the most reasonable easy going manner imaginable, how Gainsborough’s character must in some way see her sexual compulsiveness as simply that – an addiction.  While carefully detailing the experiences and encounters of her life, from the sexual games played as a teenager to characterizing her lovers in musical components of a Bach polyphony (an unforgettable and beautiful piece of cinematography), Gainsborough neither abdicates responsibility for her actions, seeks easy psychological explanations for it, or does anything else save tell the truth of her life. She recalls one moment in her childhood, a moment where she feels utterly alone in a vast and unforgiving cosmos, utterly empty, beyond sadness. She couldn’t feel a thing. and this is an ambiguity one feels throughout the movie, sometimes shock, sometimes hilarity, sometimes profound sadness – even and especially when the heights of eroticism are being reached. The beauty of this kind of good storytelling is that one is left with an awareness that, as always, there are no short easy explanations for the human condition, which is in its own way very satisfying to see on screen. Moreover the injection of humour into Von Triers style of storytelling has added much colour to an already multifaceted brilliant palette.

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