Charlotte Gainsbourg, 43, is the star of director Lars von Trier’s much-anticipated film, “Nymphomaniac.” She plays Joe, a sex addict, and the film covers 20 years of her unusual life. The Danish director is known for his penchant to shock audiences, but this film is not as sexy as you might guess, nor is sex the main story. Rather, it is a sad tale of a woman bent on self-destruction.
The film boasts an all-star cast including Uma Thurman, Christian Slater, Stellan Skarsgård, Willem Dafoe, Jamie Bell, Shia LaBeouf and newcomer Stacy Martin, who plays the younger Joe. The director’s cut is five and a half hours. For theatrical release, the film was edited down to four hours and split into two volumes. Both are deeply disturbing, yet fascinating. It’s a film unlike any you’ve seen before.
In addition to acting, Gainsbourg is a singer and the daughter of English actress Jane Birkin and French singer-songwriter Serge Gainsbourg. She is married to the Israeli actor, writer and director Yvan Attal and they have three children together. Her entre into singing was at 12 years old when she sang a duet with her father called “Lemon Incest” — with lyrics that are just as worrisome as the title implies. When she reached adulthood, Gainsbourg released three successful albums and she has appeared in films every year since 1984.
The Forward caught up with Gainsbourg to discuss her upcoming film.
Dorri Olds: What was the most challenging aspect of playing Joe?
Good news for crazy Danish director Lars von Trier, who definitely doesn’t admire Hitler: his latest film, “Melancholia,” will celebrate its North American premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival.
The Toronto screening will offer something of a fresh start for “Melancholia,” which temporarily stole the show at the Cannes Film Festival in May, after von Trier said he “understand[s] Hitler” during a bizarre monologue that got him kicked out of the festival.
Allan Nadler reviews “The Mixed Multitude,” a study of “serial apostate, sexual deviant, messianic pretender and chameleonic charlatan” Jacob Frank.
Sara Ivry interviews David Unger about his novel “The Price of Escape,” the story of a German- Jewish refugee’s misadventures in Guatemala.
Filmmaker Saul Sudin on Lars Von Trier’s disgrace, and Joseph Cedar’s triumph, at Cannes.
Woody Allen’s “Midnight in Paris” is burning up the box office.
Here’s how it seems to work at the Cannes Film Festival: organizers are happy to show your film even if you’re famously anti-Semitic — please just don’t make any weird comments on the premises.
That’s one way to interpret the events of the last few days, particularly after today’s announcement that Lars von Trier, the oddball Danish director, has been officially declared “persona non grata” at the festival.
The designation follows von Trier’s totally bonkers performance yesterday at a press conference for “Melancholia,” his latest film, at which he — jokingly? — said he can “sympathize” with Hitler. (Poor Kirsten Dunst was trapped onstage, squirming with increasing discomfort as his bizarre remarks went on.)
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