Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2 concludes the story of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), a self-diagnosed nymphomaniac who's recounting her life story to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), the man who saved her from dying. Her story resumes with her younger self (Stacy Martin) unable to feel sexual pleasure. To help cure this problem, Joe resorts to all sorts of troublesome things which lead her down an even darker path, and one that will reveal the reasoning behind her being left for dead.
Nymphomaniac: Vol. 2 is a much dark installment than the first, much much darker. In my review for Vol. 1, which can be found here, I stated how the film plays off as more of a black comedy then as a drama. This statement doesn't really apply to the second film. There is a handful of jokes here and there, such as a shamefully hilarious quacking duck joke, but the overall film is rather dark and disturbing. Lars Von Trier is known to be a provocative director and this is no exception. The film comes in all of its cringing glory, and at times Von Trier manages to push it way too far for my liking, which is something he rarely manages to do amongst all his controversial films.
The performances, much like the first, are brilliant. This time around we get to see a lot more of Charlotte Gainsbourg, which is both a good and bad thing. She's a phenomenal actress, but it causes for a Stacy Martin-less film. She's present for a few scenes at the start, but once she leaves, there's something missing in the film. We get a few new additions to make up for it though, which they barely do. Jamie Bell is marvellous as the abusive K, Willem Dafoe's character is decent in the few brief occasions he's on screen and the young Mia Goth does a good career starting performance, even if I'm not a fan of the scenes she's involved with.
The film is very challenging to watch. As Joe goes down an abusive path in order to regain sexual feelings, the film gets very violent. It's not action movie type violence though, it's sexualised violence and it's so unlike the sex scenes in the first. The cinematography and the performances mix to create some of the most difficult to watch scenes since Antichrist, although I had a far more enjoyable time with that movie, but that's veering off topic.
Nymphomaniac: Vol. II isn't morally right, in the context of nymphomania. For a great portion of this movie, I was shaking my head in utter disgust at the moral-less events being shown on screen. I couldn't relate to them, I didn't agree with them and I hated the film for looking lightly upon them. As the film goes on, the morals go further downhill, and the final half an hour is outrageously wrong. They bring to light a certain topic and then implant it into the film as if it's normal, when in actual fact it's despicable. I know, I know, that could be said for all of this movie, but this one felt so out of character, even in the topic of sex.
To sum up, Nymphomaniac: Vol II is a darker, less enjoyable installment than the first with brilliant performances and cinematography, but it's also challenging to watch and morally wrong.
2 1/2 Stars