Last night I paid to see Lars Von Trier‘s Nymphomaniac, Volume Two. At first I thought it was “better” than Volume One, which I saw a few days ago in Berlin. The opening minutes seemed more tightly organized, more montage-y, more engaging…something. Then I changed my mind and began slipping into that same kind of zoned-out numbness that Volume One acquainted me with. Not the exact same dosage but close enough. As before, I didn’t “dislike” it as much as succumb to a kind of detached scientific curiosity mixed with…what, spiritual novocaine? Not so much a deadness of the soul as a kind of temporary shutdown.
Volume Two is about a downward spiral in the fate of Charlotte Gainsbourgh‘s Joe. Her sexual obsession loses its wings and begins folding in upon itself. Her narrative goes in a darker and colder direction with less and less oxygen. Where Volume One used dry satire to mitigate a somewhat arid and clinical tone, Volume Two is a cinematic equivalent of a “cold spot” in a haunted house. I’m not saying it’s without interest. I can’t call it dull. I only looked at my watch twice. But where Volume One was joyless, bloodless sex with orgasms, Volume Two is the same without orgasms. It’s also blanker, creeper and kinkier. Pain, depravity, the lash, anal, urine sprinklings…you don’t want to know.
Prague’s Kino Svetozor was showing a somewhat censored version, of course. The uncensored five and a half hour cut (Volumes One and Two together) will presumably screen in Cannes three months hence, but I won’t be attending. I’m done. I never want to take a journey into the dark recesses of Lars Von Trier’s ass ever again. I was such a fan of this guy up to and including Dogville. Okay, Melancholia contained a certain intrigue. But Antichrist was, for me, ludicrous. And now this.
What exactly is a “silent duck“? It’s the hand imitating the shape of a duck’s head but for the purpose of penetration and, if both parties are so inclined, fisting. See what I mean?
What was that Jack Crawford line in The Silence of the Lambs? “Trust me, Clarice — you don’t want Hannibal Lecter in your head.” Same deal here. Be brave and catch Nymphomaniac, Volume One with your girlfriend or boyfriend, but under no circumstances should you and yours see Volume Two together. You really, really don’t want Lars Von Trier in your head or coloring your relationship issues or anything along those lines.
I know, I know — if a filmmaker has upset a critic to this degree he/she is probably doing something right. Perhaps. I only know that I miss the guy who directed Breaking The Waves and The Idiots and especially Dancer in the Dark. Yeah, I know — stop living in the past.
I’ve done a couple of round-table interviews with Von Trier and have, of course, considered and/or chuckled at his press conference quotes over the years. He’s always struck me as a mildly jovial, fair-minded fellow with an impish sense of humor. But trust me — Nymphomaniac, Volume Two suggests he is the chubby eight-year-old kid who pulls the wings off flies.