Cinematic Releases: Nymphomaniac Volume II

Here's Nymphomaniac Volume II in review.

"My GOD!!! Why did it have to be
Shia? Why?!!!!!"
Nymphomaniac Volume II takes a decidedly darker route through the rest of Joe’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) life story. She has exited her carefree youth and has entered the comparatively humdrum monotony of middle age. Since she is in a monogamous relationship, her desire for sex with numerous partners is not being satisfied. This leads her to pursue more extreme measures to experience new sensations and pleasures. The second half of the film is definitely shocking and at some times very hard to watch. 

The wrap around story of the odd-couple interaction between Joe and her older savior Seligman (played by Stellan SkarsgĂ„rd) is still compelling to watch and his addendums to the story continue to be enlightening. Even though they have only known each other a short time in the film their relationship goes through growth and change. Seligman does not judge Joe for her actions and serves as an impartial witness to her tale. It is left to the viewer to condemn or celebrate Joe’s story. As in real life, some of the things Joe does in the latter part of her life can be construed as selfish or abhorrent even. She is very objective about the events that shaped her as a person and offers no apologies for her existence and I can respect that.

Shia LaBeouf does a turn as Joe’s “love of her life” Jerome, and I found his acting to be weaker than the rest of the cast. It’s not a bad performance but he looks uncomfortable at times and has a hard time maintaining consistency with his accent. I do give him kudos for going outside of his normal roles (even with his recent odd behavior) and would like to see him in more artsy type films. Charlotte Gainsbourg does a wonderful job carrying the film and I loved her intelligent and sardonic portrayal of Joe. Perhaps she has been typecast as “the damaged woman” but it is a character that she does well.

"Ok. I'll arm wrestle you for it!" 
I find the concept of an art-house pornography movie to be intriguing as this is something that has not been relevant since the 1970’s. When Deep Throat made it lucrative to release mainstream porn films to the public, it was in interesting time for film. Lars Von Trier’s company Zentropa released Nymphomaniac but the interesting thing is that they have also released many hardcore pornography films as well. In fact, this is the first company ever to do so. Is it not feasible that pornography could be considered art if given the same care and thought? Von Trier has been the pioneer of combining beautiful cinematography with explicit sexual imagery and he continues his vision with Nymphomaniac. This film pushes the boundaries of what can be done in mainstream movies and I hope he continues to buck the status quo.

-Michelle Kisner