Picking up directly after the events of volume one, “Nymphomaniac Volume II” is a darker, moodier, bleaker conclusion to Lars Von Trier’s cinematic odyssey. I guess that most of what I have to say can be found in my Volume I Review, but there are a few new things to add with this one.
First of all, though it is surprisingly comfortable to slip back into this story, feeling as though we have never left, the second part does start off slightly rocky; the film goes over common ground explored by the first film and certain parts, especially the “dangerous men” section as well as the beginning of the whole Jamie Bell segment, seem slightly uncomfortable and maybe even a bit pointless. The opening few scenes are definitely reminiscent of “50 Shades”, especially since Charlotte Gainsbourg looks and dresses like Dakota Johnson from said film!
So while I was initially worried that this would turn out to be a three star film, I’m glad that it soon picked up steam.
This particular film continues it’s philosophical, meditative view on sexual relations with an increased emphasis on religion; the whole “Eastern/Western Church” section, the idea of moving from guilt/pain to hope/light and vice versa, is cleverly done and very interesting indeed. The scene involving Joe’s transformative experience, looked over by religious figures, is unique and powerful indeed.
Also, as with the first part, the film features various digressions/asides, which is brought up and playfully mocked during the story. We also see a similar narrative structure, namely Joe finds something in the room and finds a way to relate it to a particular chapter in her life. Again, the film acknowledges this and often pokes fun of this device. On a similar note, the film occasionally finds time to include some dark humour here and there.
The music is once again wonderful and contributes greatly in creating a melancholy, bleak atmosphere.
It is also worth mentioning that this film very successfully explores the issue of sex addiction, actually far better than “Shame” did, though that is an great film as well.
However, I do think that the ending is wrong; the film almost ends perfectly, but Von Trier insists on a final twist that sacrifices character consistency and seems inappropriate and disappointing.
So in conclusion, “Nymphomaniac Volume II” starts off slightly uneasily but soon picks up steam and continues its thoughtful, intelligent discussion of the subject matter. It is moody, bleak and fascinating – a remarkable odyssey.