The long-awaited North American premiere of Lars Von Trier’s new movie Nymphomaniac surprised audiences at the Sundance Film Festival who had filed into the Egyptian Theater in Park City unaware of what the film they were about to see was. Split into two parts, the latter being premiered at a later date, Von Trier’s controversial new film details the lifelong sexual exploits of a self-confessed nymphomaniac, or sex addict, Joe, played by Charlotte Gainsbourg (‘Antichrist,’ ‘Melancholia’).

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'Nymphomaniac' Has Received Its First North American Showing.

In a typical Von Trier way, the movie has raised eyebrows across the globe as viewers encounter Nymphomaniac’s reputedly graphic and shocking scenes of real sexual penetration. There seems to be some dispute over how the movie was filmed – whether the cast’s faces were digitally grafted on to porn actors faces or not – but it appears that the shock factor of watching real people have sex in a cinema has not been diminished.

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For all the shock, intrigue and disdain that seems to have accompanied the movie and its incendiary premise so far, Sundance critics saw something completely unexpected upon their first viewing. “[‘Nymphomaniac’] has an unexpectedly straightforward and surprisingly (if not always intentionally) comedic undertone,” writes the LA Times’ Steven Zeitchik, who describes the secret Sundance premiere as “one that generated a decent amount of laughter, some genuine and some awkward.”

Watch The 'Nymphomaniac' Trailer [Explicit]:

Nymphomaniac Official Trailer from Zentropa on Vimeo.

Whilst the winding and engaging storylines are praised, the shock-factor of the film is deemed no more shocking than Von Trier’s Antichrist and the lines uttered by Stellan Skarsgard’s Seligman, the man who saves Joe from a beating and hears her story, is classed as laughable. “[Seligman] is prone to finding comparisons between Joe's hard-core eroticism and everything from fly-fishing to a Bach sonata,” says Zeitchik.

The line that apparently drew laughter from the audience was when Joe details her thrusting technique and Seligman proclaims “those are the numbers in the Fibonacci sequence,” thus rendering the more subtle and ambiguous nuances of the film practically ridiculous.

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Reviewers Have Described The Laughter That Some Of The Movie's Scenes Induced.

IndieWire’s Beth Hanna neatly sums the film up as “ace,” forgiving the Fibonacci line as part of the director “clearly having fun with visual gimmicks, overlaying geometrical symbols and mathematical equations on the images as Joe tells her tale.” The reviewer recalls the “uproarious laughter but also walkouts” of the Sundance screening of Part One which left her longing for a little “flesh and blood” from the “cold” and “inscrutable” Joe.

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HitFix’s Guy Lodge praises three-time Von Trier lead Gainsbourg’s “incingly impressive showcase” and alleges that Nymphomaniac is “the funniest film the director has ever made” due to a “splendidly grim sense of humor: bursting with salty dialogue.”

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The Sundance Viewing Was Conducted In Secret: Neither The Cast Nor The Director Was In Attendance.

The movie’s dialogue is lauded for its “sexual, philosophical and even theological insight” despite the cringe-worthy Fibonacci reference. However, the critic wonders how Part Two will lead on from One as there is “nothing so much as a tidy temporary knot or mini-catharsis to tide us over until Part Two.”

Overall, Lodge sums up the film as “Thoughtful human comedy that just happens occasionally to lapse into Rammstein-scored chaos and extended montages of flaccid male genitalia.”