Lars von Trier's latest film, Nymphomaniac, isn't really allowed to be one the many sexy independent films debuting at Cannes this week, but the production company behind the sure-to-be — indeed, already, as of right now — controversial film did release a promotional photo of the cast. And it is at once as awkward, lurid, and almost theological as possible. The tableau itself is interesting as a whole — Scott Roxborough at The Hollywood Reporter likens its style to "a religious painting from the High Renaissance," and explains that von Trier has said the film contemplates religious themes. It's also, you know, really dirty.
Here, for instance, is Shia LaBeouf — who apparently has fully committed to this performance — in all his bare-chested glory, being straddled near a not-so-subtle arrangement of fruit.
Uma Thurman is posing for von Trier, whose mouth is duct-taped in what is, according to Roxborough, a nod to that time he said that he "understands Hitler." Jamie Bell stands at the ready, prepared to clean up any messes (?) with a roll of toilet paper, while Udo Kier gets a look at what's under Thurman's robe. Note the vat of "LUBRICAN..."
Why, that's a strange place to spill coffee, Willem Dafoe!
Finally, we land on Charlotte Gainsbourg and Christian Slater. Gainsbourg is apparently the titular nymphomaniac, Joe, and Slater, on IMDb, is billed as "Joe's father." And what are you up to in the background, Stellan Skarsgård? Do we see a whip?
The portrait, as a whole, is like "I spy with my little eye" for suggestive film imagery. See if you can find the cactus shaped like a part of the male anatomy, or the ice cream cones shaped like a part of the female anatomy.
Cannes labeled von Trier "persona non grata" in 2011 following those Nazi comments at the festival's press conference for Melancholia. But according to a Screen Daily interview with the Cannes chief Thierry Fremaux, the director won't be its "persona non grata" forever. Nymphomaniac, though, "wasn't ready" for this year's festival, which runs through next week.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.