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Saturday, May 24, 2014

Nymphomaniac: Vol. II Movie Review

Nymphomaniac was filmed as one entity, but director Lars von Trier cut it into two almost exact length parts. In Volume 1, we are barraged by sex in flashback and an exceedingly calm chat between Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a woman recounting her sexual adventures, and Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård ), a chaste elderly man who listens to her. Her anecdotes are steeped in religion and history and tied together with her experiences. It works. In "Nymphomanic: Vol. II", it works even better.

Joe continues recounting her sexual exploits to Seligman, but this time around she is a bit older in her flashbacks, and her tastes have gone in other directions. It's no longer just about her insatiable thirst for sex. Now it's about the repercussions of her actions.

She now has a young boy and she is married to Jerome (Shia Labeouf). She is of the belief that settling into a more normal lifestyle will cure her thirsts, but it does not work out that way. Her desires to wander are still strong. Jerome suggests that she continue to engage in sex with other partners in order to help straighten her out. It is not a great solution.

Joe ends up with a sadist who is paid by multiple women for his services. The women quietly sit in his waiting room until it is their turn to enter the back office and be bound and whipped. Joe loves this new addition to her repertoire. She goes one step too far when she leaves the young boy home alone while she attempts to slake her insatiability. Jerome comes home to find the boy about to fall off their terrace. He leaves and takes the boy with him. Her life is now in a full spiral downwards, taking a couple of interesting turns, especially when she gets involved with L (Willem Dafoe), a mobster who pays her handsomely to user her particular set of skills.

Volume II is better because it makes it all more coherent, like it would have been if it was presented in one film. Its length would have been tough to take, though, so the decision to divide it into two parts is the right choice. By the time Volume II draws to a close, I found it to be immensely satisfying. Unlike Joe, the audience will have their thirsts fully slaked.

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