It appears I’m a bit late with this review—sorry about that. But I’m happy to report that the conclusion of Lars von Trier’s epic sex film more than lives up to expectations. And you’ll get plenty of Charlotte Gainsbourg this time around. You even receive a bit of an “Antichrist” reunion with the appearance of Mr. Willem Dafoe. Plus, “Nymph()maniac” remains a hilarious comedy. Sure, there’s a serious side, and there’s plenty of violence—but the film is funny. Intentionally so. Also, upon further research, I’ve found that digital compositing helped make the sex scenes appear so real—which is honestly a bit of a disappointment. I would’ve preferred not to know—it’s more fun that way. But the adventures of Joe are just as provocative and exciting in Volume 2 as they were in the first half. And the eager-listening Seligman(Stellan Skarsgard)continues to lend an ear, until a somewhat predictable choice is followed by a somewhat unpredictable conclusion. It’s worth the wait.
We begin Part 2 with Stacy Martin as Joe, as the nymphomaniac is discovering that something has drastically changed regarding her sexuality. Joe is having an extremely difficult time coming to terms with this happenstance, but she attempts to adjust, and even continues rebuilding her relationship with Jerome—including bearing them a son. As the young Joe metamorphosizes into middle-age, the transition to Ms. Gainsbourg as Joe is abrupt, but welcome. Charlotte G. brings a world-weariness and gravitas to the role that is in sharp contrast to Ms. Martin’s youthful exuberance. It feels right. But as Joe’s sexual appetites grow more risky, and even dangerous, her life and the well-being of her loved ones becomes vulnerable. Not that that stops her. Even as far as jeopardizing the safety of her own child. There’s even a key couple of scenes, where she attempts to seek help through the services of a support group—only to end up chastising the members’ hypocrisy regarding her “affliction”.
I love how “Nymph()maniac” began in Vol. 1, and how it ended up in Volume 2, and I’d still like to experience it in one full sitting as Lars originally intended. Ms. Gainsbourg’s and Mr. Skarsgard’s performances continue to be quite strong, and the supporting cast never fails to match up—including an unexpectedly wicked appearance by Jamie “Billy Elliot” Bell, and a sensitive one with Jean-Marc Barr as a debtor with a perverse secret. Even Udo Kier pops up in a cameo as a disgruntled waiter! I didn’t need the obviousness of a late film metaphor involving a hilltop tree. Note to screenwriter(Mr. von Trier): if you’re going to present a weighted image for a character to ponder, don’t spell it out for me later in the script. Leave the mystery. Someone like David Lynch would never commit that error. But I quibble. “Nymph()maniac” is seriously adult and titillatingly sexy, as well as admirably energetic and vociferously unapologetic. I enjoyed the heck out of it—and I wish more filmmakers had the balls to create art like it. See it if you dare. Grade: A-