Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac Vol. II picks up where the first film left off, with Joe discussing her troubled past with Seligman. This film mostly follows Joe's adulthood, and dives head-first into the darker perversions and explorations Joe's sexually dictated life had lead her down, touching on her regrets and mistakes that have led her to arriving in Seligman's care. While I wan to view Nymphomaniac Vol I and Vol II as one film, it's hard to distance oneself from the fact that Vol. II is far more dark and subversive in its examination of Joe's sexual pleasure than the first film. Where I found myself struggling to truly relate to Joe's character in Vol I, Vol II does a far better job at helping the viewer understand Joe's struggle as a human being. Von Trier's film relies heavily on Charlotte Gainsbourg and she delivers with a truly brave and unforgettable performance. She embodies Joe's strong but disturbed psyche, capturing an intelligent woman whose struggle with desire has led her through a life in which she constantly struggles to maintain control.
Von Trier's film is full of philosophical and psychological discussion about the human condition but the internal battle between freedom and restriction from both a personal and societal standpoint is one of the more interesting aspects of the film. In Lars Von Trier's world we are all simply creatures of nature, struggling to understand ourselves, slaves to our own desires. Lars Von Trier's Nymphomaniac is a film that fits perfectly into his film canon, being an extremely stylistic film with dark humor which provides an endearing look into a deeply tortured soul.
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