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Tuesday, 22 April 2014 08:07

'Nymphomaniac Vol. 2' not for prudes et al. + Video

'Nymphomaniac Vol. 2' not for prudes et al. thecinemamonster.com
Written by Martha K. Baker
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About this Media...

  • Director: Lars Von Trier
  • Dates: Opened April 11, 2014

"Nymphomaniac Vol. 1" had something to say and a clever way to say it, what with all the graphics and flashbacks and analyses. But "Vol. 2" demands much and grants little. It will make even the least prudish person turn away to cover your eyes or roll them. 

And so what if the director, Lars von Trier, labels you a Victorian ninny whose laces straiten a corset. Let him.

"Vol. 2" continues the story that the woman Joe, found bleeding and bruised in an alley, is telling her Samaritan, Seligman. She huddles in his p.j. top in his narrow bed, with a tied fly and an icon on the wall that encourage her to talk and him to digress. Through Seligman's icon of Mary, with references to his own innocent virginity, von Trier continues his interest in the Eastern and Western churches. Those digressions were inventive in Vol. 1; they are not in Vol. 2.

Joe continues to talk about her nymphomania, something she proudly proclaims at a therapy session where she's sent. She talks about her son with Jerome and her loss of sexual feelings, including orgasm. Her prescription for raising the old lust quotient is to be walloped by a willing, albeit sexless, man, kind of like Seligman, he who is buttoned up to his Adam's apple. K -- another one of the characters known only by an initial -- ties her to the davenport and duct tapes her to silence. Von Trier may want us to experience what depths Joe will go to, but except for the few who delight in barely controlled damage -- there's no "safe" word here, this scene, plus the one involving a so-called "golden shower," may just lose him his audience, comprising who, again?

He may have lost his audience at the suggestion of child molestation among dried grass, with shades of a famous scene in "Women in Love." Von Trier may have lost his audience at an especially generous story of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Or he just may have lost a few more at the very idea that this is interesting, for he drops all pretense of art, which made "Vol. 1" watchable.

Certainly, Charlotte Gainsbourg as Joe does not add weight to her story. Yes, one could say that she was brave to take this part -- or, conversely, she was fool-hardy, given that the part becomes insufferable, hardly like the role Emily Watson played in von Trier's "Breaking the Waves" in 1996. Stellan Sgarsgård plays Seligman with contained attention. Shia LaBeouf as Jerome, Jamie Bell as K, and Willem Dafoe as L plays their roles dutifully but uninspired.

Von Trier probably thinks that anyone who is appalled or bored by his look at nymphomania is a closed vessel, he is wrong. Not appreciating "Nymphomaniac Vol. 2" is easy. 

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