Charlotte Gainsbourg’s bona fides as a daring actress have long been established, not least because she has starred in two films made by Danish enfant terrible Lars von Trier: “Antichrist” and “Melancholia.” Well, the actress has decided to join Von Trier’s cinematic circus one more time, as the lead in his pornographic drama “Nymphomaniac,” which should prove to be her most exposed on-screen performance yet.
The Hollywood Reporter’s German correspondent Scott Roxborough reports that Gainsbourg will co-star with Stellan Skarsgard in the story of “the erotic life of a woman from the age of zero to the age of 50.” Von Trier plans to include graphic depictions of sex in the retelling of the woman’s sexual history, though the filmmaker intends to shoot both soft and hardcore versions.
Though body doubles were used, Von Trier included a shot of graphic penetration in the prologue to “Antichrist” involving the married characters played by Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe. Not shy about her willingness to commit fully to her tortured characters, Gainsbourg spent a portion of that movie naked and performed several scenes of simulated sex and masturbation.
Von Trier is not the first serious filmmaker to experiment with depictions of non-simulated sex — Michael Winterbottom’s “9 Songs” famously did the same—but as he is a bit of a cultural lightning rod and often fields criticism that he is a misogynist because of the hardships he rains down on his female protagonists (Bjork in “Dancer in the Dark,” Emily Watson in “Breaking the Waves,” Gainsbourg in “Antichrist”), this new exercise in provocation should prompt its own scoffs and wails.
NRW Filmstifftung, the German regional subsidy board, is financing “Nymphomaniac” with $1.6 million in production subsidies. Filming is scheduled to begin over the summer.