The story centres around the retelling of the sexual exploits during one woman's lifetime (Gainsbourg) from her days of youth until age fifty, as recounted to her husband, played by Stellan Skarsgard.
LaBeouf's apparent interest in the project signals a shift in his current direction; having made his name on the big screen with big blockbusters including family friendly hits Transformers and the (much-maligned) Indiana Jones 4, a move towards working with the art-house director seems an unlikely one at first. Though it's uncertain what his role will be, Von Trier and his casting crew have a knack of recruiting unlikely names to his films and getting the best out of them - see Kiefer Sutherland's turn in Melancholia, for example.
With his dashing good lucks and some experience playing a 1950s greaser (what was that film again?), maybe he'll end up in a cameo as one of Gainsbourg's previous lovers in her younger days - purely speculation, mind; though it could be that Von Trier (AntiChrist, The Idiots) has something darker in mind for the young star.
LaBeouf is no stranger to controversy and sexual politics himself, bearing in mind certain quotes made last year regarding Megan Fox's role in the Transformers movies; maybe the Danish director - often accused of being anti-feminist and chauvinist himself - sees some similar on-screen potential in LaBeouf.
We'll have more as shooting begins; in the meantime, here's something that may or may not foreshadow things to come in The Nymphomaniac - Shia LaBeouf in the buff for a Sigur Ros music video. Enjoy?