'Nymphomaniac: Volume II': Porn again

Posted: April 04, 2014

ADVOCATES of Danish provocateur Lars von Trier have described his pornographic "Nymphomaniac" movies, a bit hopefully, as scandalous.

In fact, there is no scandal. Volume I came and went with barely a peep - on the whole, people would rather see "Noah" - and though Volume I and Volume II (opening today) are hailed as worth talking about, no one is.

Perhaps because folks feel they can't get a word in edgewise. Von Trier himself seems to be doing most of the talking, via the desultory narration of his protagonist Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg), who relates her story of sexual pilgrimage to a bookish gentleman (Stellan Skarsgard).

Volume II completes her implausible journey ("The Story of O," come on) - at times 1970s frat-smoker funny, other times a little too obviously designed to provoke our middle-class sensibilities.

When a therapist describes Joe's compulsive sexual behavior as "addiction," Joe explodes in righteous anger, arguing that such a diagnosis is a convenient label to paste over the sensibilities of a fearful bourgeoisie.

What bourgeoisie is she talking about?

Von Trier does not seem to know that the middle class spends $14 billion a year on pornography, in every conceivable permutation. (Von Trier imagines that his audience will be shocked by interracial sex, which says more about the director than his audience).

The director provides us a veritable golden shower of putatively provocative images, but nothing really shocks until he reverts to one of his old standbys - actually beating on women.

I'm just square enough to object to the lengthy close-up of a woman's bloodied and blistered rear-end.

She is, in Von Trier's scenario, enjoying it, which may be the most bourgeois notion in the entire movie.

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