Back in 2003 when I saw Kill Bill vol.1 I enjoyed it but felt like it just lacked something. Then when I saw vol.2 it made Kill Bill Vol.1 seem that much better and the whole picture was a great cinematic journey that worked as a whole, better then its individual parts. I can not say the same thing about Nymphomaniac, as were the first chapter was very compelling and told an interesting story about a women telling her sexual story to new found friend, vol. 2 is a tiresome 2 hours, that basically does all the same stuff the first film did, but with lesser results.
Nymphomaniac Vol. 2 is a bore.
The story starts off right were Vol.1 left off as we continue to here Joe’s story as she tell it to, Seligman. She has moved in with her lover Jerome and she now can no longer have an orgasm. much to the frustration of Jerome. We continue with stories of Joe having a child, her encounter with two very well equip black men, how see she gets addicted to am S&M life style, how she hooks up with a shady debt collector (Willem Dafoe), and how she gains a protege (Mia Goth), who she has lesbian sex with.
The most interesting of these stories is the S&M segments, which are shown with brutal reality. Jamie Bell plays the S&M instructor and he does a fantastic job of making this man both icy cold and intimate with Joe, at the same time. These scenes are very hard to watch as you see on full detail the flesh being ripped apart by these very twisted moments. However it isn’t the brutality or the realism that makes these scenes so good, its the way it shows how Joe becomes so completely obsessed with this life style. It is fascinating to watch and is about the only good moments in the movie.
Other so called shocking scenes include Joe’s encounters with the black men. I understand what Von Trier was trying to do with this scene, and how he is trying to point out the stereo types, but it just falls complete flat for me. It comes off more pretentious then anything else, something Von Trier is well known for. There are many moments of Von Trier’s self indulgence here, including how he uses objects in the house to set up the story for that chapter of Joe’s tale. Sure it was vol.1 as well but this time he really stretches it and pretty much loses focus.
The final segment involving Joe’s protege just hits all the wrong notes for me. The relationship the form just felt so out of place in this film and left me groaning. We find out how Joe got laid out in that street where Seligman finds her, and that scene was just wrong on every level. It didn’t work other then as a gross out factor. The final scene of the movie hits the exact same sour note. The final third of the film was just un-watchable for me.
The hard core elements are even more graphic then in the first segment and though they are once again in no way erotic whatsoever, this time they feel more like they are there just to shock you and really lack the purpose they had in the first film.
Stacy Martin who played the younger Joe in the first film, has a few scenes here but we quickly move to the more present day Joe played by Charlotte Gainsbourg. As were Martin made Joe an interesting character, through body language and emotions, Gainsbourg seems to lack those elements and comes off cold and stiff and the audience really can’t relate to her much. The shift in actress actually hurt the film, instead of aiding it.
It is said that Lars has a 5 hour master version of Nymphomaniac that is meant to be his true telling of the story. After having watched 4 hours already, I can’t imagine how adding an extra hour would benefit the film in anyway. The first two hours the story was interesting and fascinating to watch. After the 3 and 4 hour mark it got really boring and a chore to sit through.
My recommendation is to watch the first half and forget the second. As a whole the movie just falls apart in the second half and will leave you worn out from an exhausting running length and a sour third act.