My Favorite Quote From Nymphomaniac: Vol. I (2013)

“Perhaps the only difference between me and other people is that I’ve always demanded more from the sunset. More spectacular colors when the sun hit the horizon. That’s perhaps my only sin.”
– Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) in Nymphomaniac Vol. 1 

Not only is this my favorite quote from the first part of Lars von Trier‘s new film Nymphomaniac, but it’s also my favorite film quote from 2013. My second favorite quote of the year comes from Before Midnight, when Jesse and Céline argue and he tells her “I don’t always do anything” dead serious, but almost in passing, between a number of great lines. Back to Nymphomaniac: Why is that my favorite quote? Several reasons. Charlotte Gainsbourg‘s delivery in her soft voice, but with an almost self-pitying tone. The way Lars edited and inserted it into the film, which gives it a certain weight. Of course it’s also beautifully written.

I believe that line contains the essence of Nymphomaniac and what the filmmaker is trying to say. Joe’s depression comes from her self-hatred and the punishment she inflicts on herself. She knows that she can’t change. She says that she doesn’t have a problem with her sexuality, but that may only be true to a certain degree. While she rationalizes her addiction and doesn’t think she’s doing anything morally reprehensible, she realizes that other people are judging her. She does feel the need to justify herself, which doesn’t necessarily imply that she feels guilty, but she is definitely not happy.

Her unhappiness, her inability to get out of her depression, enjoy life and find meaning is what she hates about herself. Her only sin is that she is never happy and always wants more. She demands more pleasure, more intensity, more. Through sex she believes that she can feel the most, maybe fill her void and not need anything else. Deep down she knows that even if sexual pleasure is the most intense thing she can feel it’s never going to be enough. This only reinforces the downward spiraling circle that is her depression. Her sin is permanent dissatisfaction, asking too much from God, inability to accept what she has.

It’s sad, yet beautiful at the same time – It summarizes Joe’s depression in three short sentences.


  1. thomasjford

    I have this to watch, just can’t bring myself to at the moment. I know you are biased Davide, but should I be excited about it? Is it the usual Von Trier headf**k or is it actually fairly normal?!

    • Davide Perretta

      This might sound weird, but I’m excited for you 😀

      I don’t know how you feel about von Trier’s other films, but this is one of my favorites of his along with Melancholia and Dogville. It’s very philosophical and actually more about depression than sex. Lots of flashbacks and digressions and comparing sex to art or other metaphors. It’s very artsy and philosophical and Tarkovsky 🙂

      Do you have both volumes? Uncensored? I can’t wait to watch both back to back. The theatrical cut isn’t as graphic as people think and none of the sex scenes are hot or anything like that, so there seemed to be a couple disappointed people at my theater 😀

      I think if you can get into the pace of the film it’s great. I love Joe, the main character, and the acting is superb. It’s actually a beautiful film all around, but I don’t want to write a second review now 😉

      • thomasjford

        To be honest, I have no love for Von Trier at all. I turned Dogville off pretty early on and his other films seem to me to just be shocking for shocking’s sake. But I can’t really comment on them because I’m basing that on synopsis and reviews etc.

        I’ll let you know if Nymphomaniac changes my mind on him!

      • Davide Perretta

        I see what you mean. I don’t think he’s trying to be shocking, that would annoy me as well. If he was trying to be shocking I think his films would be exploitative, but they’re not. Also, like you’ve seen they’re slow paced usually not what wanna-be-shockers go for. I really hope you like it!

  2. Alina (literaryvittles)

    Oh my goodness, the “Nymphomaniac” referred to in the title is a girl?? I always assumed it was Shia’s character! Now I really am intrigued… Sadly, I highly doubt that “Nymphomaniac” will make its way to my local movie theater, so I will have to seek it out in a different format.

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