[Note: This review is of a censored, abridged version of Nymphomaniac: Vol. II. Director Lars Von Trier gave this version his approval, but did not create this cut.]
In Nymphomaniac: Vol. II, Joe’s (Charlotte Gainsbourg) nymphomaniac has gone from a lilting, slightly melancholy, comically punctuated romp to a place of loss and ruin. She has passed “innocent” discovery and, like any addict, needs a bigger fix. She can’t help herself, and she becomes self-destructive as a result. In this way, writer-director Lars Von Trier is the same as his protagonist. He can’t get away from his greatest flaws no matter how hard he tries, and in Nymphomaniac: Vol. II, he tries pretty damned hard. There are still bouts of silly melodrama and off-kilter jokes, but Vol. II is far more brutal than Vol. I [my review], and Von Trier (unsurprisingly) seems to feel more comfortable in an environment of pain and suffering. Nevertheless, for all the stumbles and false notes, he builds to something emotionally impactful. And then he fucks it up.