NYMPH( )MANIAC: Volume II (2014) (Not Rated)
This review contains SPOILERS!
The second part of Lars von Trier's film on sex and life: "NYMPH( )MANIAC: Volume II" proves that there is a stylistic shift even within the second part of a movie.
"Volume I" for lack of a better word, was fun. It had so much going on from the quirky black-and-white to the text that would appear on the screen in Tarantino fashion...and yes, the musical composition of sex that it was incredibly interesting.
Von Trier's fan-base has literally exploded because of the film and it's hard to see why when "Volume II" is included.
First of all, it should be said that the film itself is masterfully made. It's no wonder that von Trier is considered to be one of the great directors simply on style alone. I don't consider him a great weaver of stories and his dialogue sounds very stilted...yet this is all encompassing his world. His characters may not exist in our world and through them bits of our humanity is slowly revealed
That may not have made sense, but anyway.
Joe continues her story, telling Seligman how she came to be in the middle of an alley, beaten up. At the end of "Volume I", Joe lost the pleasure of sex. Her genitalia went numb...she couldn't feel anything. Now this could be taken literally or as a metaphor to how Joe and her lover's relationship—she is with the boy she lost her virginity to, though it's not half as romantic as it sounds—is slowly drowning Joe.
She exists outside the boundaries of normal human society and though she is prone to sex, she is somewhat in control. She has to have it; yet we all think that she would be fine without it. At one point in the story, Joe likens herself to a pedophile and though we may disagree with her, the likening itself proves that she's not completely devoid of what we consider to be "normality".
Because sex was everything to her, Joe is sent into a tailspin; but that doesn't keep her from sleeping around even more.
She verbally pens more chapters, even more quirkily titled than the first part—take for instance "Chapter 6: The Eastern and the Western Church (the silent duck)". Lars von Trier's writing seems very much like stream of conscience. What's great about this is that it takes you to a place that you can't trace back to an origin easily.
Joe's self-loathing is countered by her constant self-praising which would make sense because she is a pessimist. Seligman thinks that man has a great deal of good in him. Joe retaliates by saying that the true essence of man is hypocrisy.
She makes several blanket statements about humanity. Man is driven to orgasm. Man is driven to kill. Man is prone to hypocrisy.
There are truths in all these arguments and lies in all of them...it's a deep movie, though so vagrantly shallow.
"NYMPH( )MANIAC" is a colossal film, if for the wrong reasons.
It founds its ideas so well that the purposeful degradation of those ideas are frustrating to the viewer...that's intentional.
As Joe proceeds with her sexual escapades, she experiments with S&M. She meets a reclusive and non-sexual sadist named K (Jamie Bell). Many of the characters in the film are just given letters of the alphabet to name them, including B, P, L, H, and Mrs. H. The cast is formidable and everyone gives great performances, Mr. LaBeouf included.
The movie does belong to Charlotte Gainsbourg and Stellan Skarsgård...they give tremendous turns that deserve Oscar nominations...alas, this is not the kind of film that the Academy recognizes.
There are moments of tremendous beauty in the film. The simple appearance of a naked tree on the top of a hill can make the viewer's heart swell with unbelievable emotions.
Lars von Trier should be commended for his handling of the subject. He never loses sight of the emotion of the characters.
But then, there's the ending. We all knew it was going to nasty...but I didn't expect this. I hated it.
That being said, after thinking on it for a while, I don't know how else it should have ended. It perfectly sums up the ending thoughts of the movie...as well as bringing back the idea of predator, prey, and fly fishing.
"NYMPH( )MANIAC" is a blistering success and one that I may never see again...but as the poet Justin Bieber said: "never say never".
It's gloriously beautiful, carelessly sexual, violent, disturbing, and—I hate myself for saying this so early—one of the year's most innovative films.
Posted by Micah Jones