NYMPHOMANIAC: VOL. II. One of the weakest films by von Trier

After watching both parts of Nymphomaniac, I already know that the film by Lars von Trier is, in my opinion, one of the weakest positions in his ouvre.

Filip Jalowski

30 June 2023

Nymphomaniac charlotte gainsbourg with two naked black men

Read the review of Nymphomaniac: Vol. 1 here.

This does not mean, of course, that the story about Joe is completely uninteresting and devoid of fragments that stand out above the level of summer, completely bland cinema. It’s completely the other way around. Despite the fact that there are quite a lot of such scenes in von Trier’s movie, they still do not save the film as a whole. Nymphomaniac in the long run is, unfortunately, a tiresome, wordy and banal film.

nymphomaniac poster

The first part of the film gave hope that as the plot develops, the director will go further and further, which will ultimately lead to a creative roller coaster ride. A similar impression was evoked by cleverly edited fragments of scenes from the second half of von Trier’s production. What wasn’t there! Cars set on fire with a molotov cocktail, Gainsbourg threesome with two black men, whipping of private parts. A lot, even with the far from puritanical values of the first part. Of course, we will find all this and even more in the second half of Nymphomaniac. However, it almost completely loses the element that made von Trier’s trivial digressions quite pleasant to watch. In the second part of Nymphomaniac, the humor that dominates the first chapters of Joe’s story escapes, and the seriousness of the film definitely does not help.

nymphomaniac naked charlotte gainsbourg with two naked black guys

Although the director tries to emphasize his ironic distance, for example by putting into the mouth of the main character the line “we are starting to get dangerously close to banality”, but the mere awareness of the direction in which the film is heading is not enough to change its trajectory. Watching the second part of the picture, it’s hard not to get the impression that, focusing on the meticulous creation of the intricate structure of his story, the director lost interest in developing its content. The first two hours of the screening revealed many interesting clues that Trier could follow with the always excellent Gainsbourg. Unfortunately, the trails were eventually blurred, and the director took the easy way out and started following a simple, paved road that leads directly to a not very revealing thesis – we are all slaves to our drives. From more than four hours of digressions, one could expect something more brilliant.

nymphomaniac charlotte gainsbourg bdsm

In the second part of the film, Lars von Trier simply starts to tire the viewer. The cultural juggling of comparisons present in the film thanks to the character of Seligman, Joe’s confessor, becomes only a somewhat forced art for art’s sake. Despite getting into more and more perverse areas, Joe’s own stories also lose their strength. This is due to the fact that from the moment Stacy Martin disappears from the screen, and thus the title character reaches adulthood, everything starts to lead to the not very revealing thesis, which was mentioned in the paragraph above. In conjunction with the also signaled resignation from humor, Nymphomaniac very quickly begins to drift towards cheap fatalism.

However, the Dane’s film is not a complete creative failure. The craftsmanship with which it was made and the acting solidity of all cast members make it hard to talk about Nymphomaniac in terms of a cinematic tragedy. In general, despite all these tropes and strong fragments, Lars von Trier’s latest production is a bland creation. A nicely packaged story about nothing. Pity.