If you only have to watch one Lars von Trier film with “nymphomaniac” in the title, make it the first part of his episodic diptych in which a woman called Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) tells an asexual intellectual (Stellan Skarsgård) the story of her sex life.
The results are funny, naughty, non-pc, playful, sloppy, seductive, educational (there are digressions about fly-fishing, and trees), with music by Rammstein, Bach and César Franck. In short, an arthouse film that is fleetfooted fun, whereas Part 2 is heavier and more troubling, more like medicine.
I’m not going to make the obvious joke about pussy, but another point in Vol I’s favour is that it has a cat in it. The film is divided into chapters, and in Chapter Five: The Little Organ School, Joe compares one of her many, many lovers to a cat (“When he finally turned up and I opened the door, he didn’t immediately enter, the way a cat doesn’t when you let it in.”)
At which von Trier inserts a shot of a brown mackerel tabby staring into the camera. It doesn’t do anything, but the shot is held long enough for us to see it narrowing its eyes.
But then cats don’t actually have to do anything much for us to go “aaaah”.
I would call this a classic Catscallion, the equivalent of the Joker in a pack of cards, the mark of a confident player who knows he already has the game won. Voilà! This is my film. And here’s a cat!