Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Nymphomaniac Vol. II

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I dare you to watch this with your parents.

Nymphomaniac Vol. II – 2 out of 5

You might have caught my review of Nymphomaniac Vol. I…or you might not have.  I dunno, I don’t have a lot of followers or a lot of traffic at my blog.  I basically do this for fun and the amusement of a couple other people.  Anyway, the first half of this film (originally intended to be a four plus-hour epic) was a pretty average outing.  There were things I liked, things I didn’t like, and some scenes of non-simulated sex that made me feel dirty and worry about somebody suddenly just entering my house and see me watching this and immediately thinking I’m a perv—or worse, my girlfriend comes home and thinks I’m a perv.  Anyway, against my better judgment of watching one after the other, I immediately took Vol. I out of the PS3 and popped in the second one…the experience wasn’t pleasant.

"'Wasn't pleasant?' Dafuq?"

Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) continues to tell her tale to the kind-hearted Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård).  She reveals to him how she reunited with the man who took her virginity (Shia LaBeouf) and ends up having a kid with him.  She discusses about how her body starts to become disinterested in sex and starts to look for other avenues of gratification (well, Joe does, not her body.  Her body splitting off and looking for pleasure would be weird...but possibly an interesting movie)—this, ultimately, leads her to a sadomasochist (Jamie Bell) who regularly beats her.  She spits out a yarn about how her sexual appetite leads her to addiction meetings and, somehow, ends up working with a debt collector (Willem Dafoe) and that, while working for this man, takes an apprentice who goes all Sith on her and betrays her and leaves her where the first film opened up.  Then the film ends…just kidding, there’s a little shocker at the end.

"Hi Joe!"

This time around, while the acting is still great (especially Charlotte Gainsbourg) and the sex  is still around, the story becomes even more boring and a little too ridiculous for me to take seriously—and I’m the guy who thinks films that involve comic book heroes are awesome.  There was a grounded nature to Joe’s story in the first film and it showed a lot of respect to her and her nymphomaniac style.  This one, however, get a little silly, in my opinion.

Sigh...he's giving me another "dafuq" face...

He looks too innocent to be a dude who beats the shit
out of women for sexual gratification.
While it starts interestingly enough as Joe starts to see that sex isn’t as gratifying as it once was and she goes down a dark path that has a dude who gets violent with her, it ends with a story that is a shadow of its beginning.  The story does develop extremely well as her nymphomania becomes common knowledge at work and she is forced to go to an addicts meeting and also must deal with the abuse her body has gone through after years of lots and lots of sex and the beatings from Jamie Bell’s character.  That's the good part and it’s an interesting twist to Joe’s story and feels like an interesting and disturbing development, and, most of all, feels like a natural evolution to the drama—however, then the film takes Joe into debt collecting where she uses her love of sex and knowledge of sexual abuse to beat and boner-ize dudes out of their money.

"Yes...a debt collector!  It all makes sense now!  All those orgasms were
leading me to this moment..."

Once the film hit this point, I just couldn’t take it seriously anymore.  If the film went to a third Volume was Joe going to use her sexual knowledge to bring peace in the Middle East?  Had the series continued was Joe going to use her love of love-making to get a space shuttle to Mars?  If a third one came along was she going to use her intimate knowledge of all things intimate to invent a faster-than-light drive so that humans can conquer the stars?  Yes, these examples are ridiculous but Joe realizing that she has no place in the world and feels alienated so she turns to a life of knee-breaking and ball busting for debts owed felt like a jump to the fantastic when compared to the earlier moments of Joe’s story—even her turning to a sadomasochist in order to feel something is far more naturally feeling than her jumping to collect debts for Willem Dafoe.

"One more question to see if you have what it takes to be a debt collector...
do you have intimate or extensive knowledge of genitalia?"

The story gets even sillier as Joe is asked to take on an apprentice who will one day strike her down with her metaphoric lightsaber and take over for her.  This apprentice eventually betrays her in the deepest way possible by getting together with the man who is basically a bad penny in Joe’s life; Jerôme.  This betrayal and heartache that is delivered to Joe is actually great for the character and helped kept the film from ending on a snoozing note for me but I can’t help but think there could have been a better way to go about getting to this destination.  It’s just a personal preference by the whole becoming a debt collector and taking an apprentice that will turn on her was just too silly for me to take seriously and it really ended up killing the film.

"When I left her I was but the learner--now, I am the master!"

In the end, Nymphomaniac Vol. II still has some great acting to it and there is some intrigue to the story and some great drama unfolding (and yes, there’s still the real sex thing going on) but the story is even slower than the first half and the end gets a little too forced and many of the elements feeling like they were pointlessly tacked on in order to achieve drama and tension that could have been grown naturally and in many different ways.  In the end,  the Nymphomaniac films are just not my cup of tea.  There are elements I enjoy about them but as a whole (and this is as a whole when they are volume-ed—I haven’t seen the uncensored five and a half fucking hour edit) they are just not films I can find myself enjoying or even see myself thinking about again in the future…unless someone asks me, “Have you seen the movie where you see that scientist guy from Thor’s penis?”

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