Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Review - Nymphomaniac: Volume II (2014)

Starring Charlotte Gainsbourg, Stellan Skarsgard and Shia LaBeouf
Directed by Lars von Trier.

Synopsis: A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating.

Nymphomaniac: Volume II picks up right where it left off in Volume I. Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) continues to tell her story in flashback sequences to Seligman (Stellan Skargard), a man who took her into his home after finding her badly beaten in an alley. In the first volume, Stacy Martin (who played a younger Joe) commanded much of the screen time -- but here we see Charlotte Gainsbourg in full light in her own story. Volume II continues with its explicit nature of real sex scenes and some engaging and thoughtful dialogue between Joe and Seligman, as she recounts her tale of sexual obsession.

Volume II contains a little less sex scenes than the first, and so it does feel a bit slower. However the less sex scenes made way for Joe to touch on other interesting and darker phases of her life such as motherhood, slut shaming and sexual prowess. I found myself a bit disturbed at some points at the activities taking place but then again, isn't that the whole point of this film. Director Lars von Trier uses sex and successfully so to draw us into this immense and insightful character study and tale of obsession. I was also rather pleased that her story was told straight to the present time so at least we got an idea of how she got in her present situation. The cinematography is lovely, the performances are great and I loved how the film dug a bit deeper into Stellan Skarsgard's character -- instead of having him just seem like an expendable addition to the film. What surprised me however was the ending -- totally ironic, unexpected and showed arc. Nymphomaniac is definitely one of the most interesting films I've seen in years.

Rating: 7.5/10

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