ELLE reviews Nymphomaniac

Charlotte Gainsbourg and Shia LaBeouf star

Lars von Trier's sexually explicit drama was notorious before it had even screened – now ELLE can report that the two-parter is just as controversial and compelling as you'd expect.

Charlotte Gainsbourg stars as Joe, a self-confessed nymphomaniac who tells her life story to a stranger (Stellan Skarsgård). Flashbacks show the young Joe (model-turned-actress Stacy Martin) cooly seducing men by the bucketload. She only has feelings for one, Jerôme (Shia LaBeouf), and he flits in and out of her life. And, er, her. Yes, this shows real sex, although porn star doubles, prosthetics and CG were reportedly used for the hardcore bits. But it's rarely erotic: this is more of a sermon on sex from the perspective of a cold-hearted heroine. It's often exasperating but just as often funny and thought-provoking.

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Brilliant cameos include Uma Thurman as a wronged wife and Jamie Bell as a master dominator. Boy, has Billy Elliott grown up.

Nymphomaniac Part 1 is in cinemas Friday February 21, Part 2 Friday March 21

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