The woman explains her erotic experiences and sex addiction to a man who takes her in after she is beaten up. The film is split into two parts with the first her earlier stories, and the second the ones following those.
Honestly, going into this all I knew was that it had quite a lot of famous people, and I guessed from the title that there would probably be some sex involved. So I can’t say it wasn’t what I was expecting, because I really didn’t know what to expect at all. What the film did is completely divide audiences, and it’s not hard to see why.
Ok, so there is a lot of sex. So, if sex is a thing you’d rather not watch, don’t see this film. There are a lot of penises, in fact there is a maybe two minute long sequence which is essentially just a slide show of penises. And again, if you are uncomfortable with a copious amount of cocks, you should probably avoid this one. However if none of that stuff bothers you, it’s a pretty interesting watch.
The story is split up into eight chapters, with three in the first film, and five in the second. The numbers will make sense when you watch it. It starts off with Joe’s sexual awakening, and her losing her virginity to Jerome (Shia LaBeouf). And here we find possibly the oddest part of this movie, and that is Shia’s accent. He’s in the films quite a bit, but I still have no idea where he is supposed to be from, honestly if you can find me someone who can recognise his accent I’ll give you a fiver. All the other performances are very strong, within the kind of deadpan style set up by Lars Von Trier. Actually Shia LaBeouf’s actual performance is fine, it’s just his accent which is off-putting. Charlotte Gainsbourg is fantastic in the central role of Joe, and Stacy Martin is equally good as her younger self. Elsewhere standouts are Jamie Bell, Stellan Skasgard and Mia Goth.
As the film goes on for its eventual four hour runtime you do begin to wonder where one draws the line between art and porn. Because where most sex scenes obviously contribute to plot and character development, others wouldn’t appear to that much. You do also ask yourself whether it really need be this long. I would probably watch it again, to take more of it in and possibly understand it a little bit more, but for that I’d have to find another four hours of spare time, which due to my recent employment is looking unlikely.
I do have niggles, but these aren’t with the themes of the film. I actually would agree that it is a film about female empowerment which shows misogyny, but crucially in almost every sex scene Joe is in complete control. The problems I have with the film are some little things. Things that ruined any immersion I had picked up. Like the oddly placed rammestein song which I don’t think really fits, or the sometimes irritating diversions from the story that Stellan Skasgard’s character provides, so much so that I did at one point shout at him to shut up about his bloody fly fishing.
Overall, it is definitely worth a watch because it is an extremely stylish and well put together piece of work, that I think you will enjoy if you can look past Shia LaBeouf’s ridiculous accent.