Nymphomaniac Vol. II (2013)
Directed by: Lars von Trier
Written by: Lars von Trier
Starring: Charlotte Gainsbourg, Christian Slater, Jamie Bell, Mia Goth, Michael Pas, Shia LaBeouf, Stacy Martin, Stellan Skarsgård, Udo Kier, Uma Thurman, Willem Dafoe
NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. II (2013)
Written and directed by Lars Von Trier
Available from Amazon
Charlotte Gainsbourg switches from being solely the narrator in Vol I to both the narrator and lead of the film as she takes the reigns of Joe from Stacy Martin, who stars as young Joe for the most of the first and the beginning of the second volume. Continuing to recount her tale to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), we learn more about the kindly gentleman who’s willing to lend an ear as well as how Joe ended up battered and lying on the floor of an alleyway. If Volume I was about her rise in sexuality, Volume II is most definitely about the downfall and consistant struggle to maintain and satisfy her desire.
Jerome, played by Shia LaBeouf and later by Michael Pas, is a major player in Joe’s life but when she hits a brick wall sexually, Joe’s circle of acquaintences broadens to include those she wouldn’t have encountered unless it was absolutely necessary, one of whom is K (Jamie Bell). Unable to keep a normal job down either, Joe decides to start her own business as a self employed freelancer, utilising her skills to essentially debt collect for L (Willem Dafoe).
I’ve watched the cut version of NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. II and it’s quite a sorry state if affairs for Joe, as we empathise with her situation. I believe that the director’s cut, however, contains a brutal and graphic self abortion scene involving knitting needles, graphically akin to the genital slicing in Von Trier’s Antichrist. I’m glad I didn’t have to sit through that but at the same time, it changes the story somewhat and the viewer’s empathy, but still reinforces how severe her nymphomania is and the effects it has on her life and everyone around her.
Though it still has nudity and graphic scenes, just maybe not as much sex as Vol. I, NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. II is a strained watch. It’s not young, fun and pleasurable anymore. It’s worn out, a struggle, a difficult watch that always seems to be trying to keep up. Von Trier’s done an excellent job as this mimics the state in which Joe is in at that particular point in her life. She’s hit her peak and is on a downhill slope, struggling to get back to the top where she once was.
A sombre effort compared to the previous volume, NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. II still has quite an impact but in a different way. It raises some interesting questions about sexuality and whether you should accept who you are.
Terrific performances once again from the cast, NYMPHOMANIAC VOL. II continues to shock right up until the climax.