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Jacob Zembower's Movie Reviews (114)

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Nymphomaniac: Volume II 
"That's not something to smile about."
2.5/4 stars

A big step down from Part 1, Nymphomaniac: Volume II still has the typical Lars von Trier strengths. This time far more bleak and unflinching, Gainsbourg continues to give another rawly emotional performance. Jamie Bell is also quite good as a a sado-masochist, which is portrayed in painful, brutal, unflinching, graphic detail. It's up there with the flogging of Christ in The Passion. For most of its running time, despite it's relentlessly downbeat material, Part II is fascinating and harrowing, and if you thought the first one was unsexy despite the graphic depictions of sexuality, well, Part II is even worse. . Skarsgard is also great, as Joe's confidant and seeming only true friend for once. Then comes the final minutes, and herein lies the biggest flaw. I don't know what Trier was thinking, whether he just wanted to give the audience a big fuck you, got lazy in his writing/wrote himself in the corner, or just had to tag on a supposedly shocking ending, which drops like the thud and nearly destroyed everything that came before it. I just don't understand that with a film like this one, which is already provocative, bleak, and controversial, he decided on this particular ending. If he had ended it just 3 minutes before, it would have been just right. But no. I love you Lars, but... why? Still, this is well worth a watch, as is anything by Trier. The performances, directing, and editing are just far too great to pass. Just don't expect that consistent entertaining brilliance of part 1.
(Equivalent of an NC17 for explicit sexual content including graphic nudity and dialogue, some brutal violence, and language )


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