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Can we talk about that scene? Uma Thurman in Nymphomaniac

'Can we talk about that scene?' is a periodic instalment where memorable scenes are discussed. Given the nature of these pieces, we will be entering major spoiler territory and the film(s) in question will be stated upfront. For additional entries, please click here.

SPOILER ALERT for Nymphomaniac (2013).

How good is Uma Thurman? So good, that even for a 4-hour long film (Volume I + II) with some of the most explicit sex scenes ever depicted in the non-pornographic medium, her scene-stealing and brief performance as the wife of a cheating husband was by far the most memorable moment. As a refresher, the clip in question is viewable on YouTube in almost its entirety. Being dutifully controlled by Thurman's measured presence as a performer, we're given a scene that's equal parts awkward, discomforting, hilarious and thoughtfully intense. There's something about her voice that so accurately capitulates our defences as a viewer, and we simply become invested in her every word and movement. She did this in Kill Bill mostly through her narration dialogue, but here, she does it as part of an actual scene and it's a beautiful sight.

This scene finds itself in a film that has so much brutality and sexuality with no break, and offers a brief humanizing moment in a ridiculous fashion that stays true to the craziness that is Nymphomaniac. This film is nuts, as is Lars von Trier, which we all already knew. Uma Thurman joins in and plays ball with all this craziness, and we should just be thankful she got invited to the game.


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