My rating: 8
IMDB rating: 7
IMDB link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2382009/?ref_=nv_sr_3
The most important thing that you could know about this film, is the fact that it was directed by Lars von Trier. Although, he is one of the biggest film makers of our time, he makes a very specific film and you have to know that, going into this film.
I watched Volume 1, and was absolutely captured by the sensual experience, that watching one of these movies entails. Every shot and every sound is a play on the senses. I then even watched it with earphones and the effects of the sound was overwhelming.
Naturally, I could not stop at the first Volume, because you are so intrigued with these characters, even Jerome, that you just need to know the fate of these characters. And in this second volume you are most certainly rewarded for sticking around.
Charlotte Gainsbourg is one amazing actor. I feel like I do not have enough adjectives to describe the way in which she portrays Joe, not as someone with an affliction, but someone who is blessed. She connects in a very irregular way with the viewer that on the surface she still seems distant.
Volume 2 had a lot more symbolism and mythology worked into it, which I very much enjoyed. Especially, where Seligman tells of his own sexual situation. The question of spectatorship, which of course cannot be seperated from scopophilia (Peeping Toms), fetishism and most importantly voyeurism, is also constantly raised. As a viewer and a ‘hearer’ of her story we achieve some sense of satisfaction through her telling and through the ‘taboo’ element.
Volume 1 showed the innocent (is that the right word?) little Joe, coming to terms with her sexual appetite, while Volume 2 takes a step into the darkness by portraying Joe’s inability to be sexually stimulated. She goes through a series of very controversial methods of trying to regain her ability to be sexually satisfied. The world’s new-found fascination with BDSM continues in this, totally impersonal portrayal of Joe’s need for sadomasochism. As Joe try to return to the normative, to have a relationship with ‘K’- the director again makes a subtle statement about our inability nowadays to be stimulated by the personal and instead she is stimulated by rubbing her own clitoris against the stand. She achieves stimulation through ritual mutilation and her own ‘choice’ (to be stimulated through this). This is perhaps a very abstract way of thought, but I hope you followed!
Jamie Bell kills it in the role of ‘K’, the BDSM expert, which is quite a step from being Esca in The Eagle. Other noteworthy performances include Mia Goth as ‘P’ and of course, Stella Skarsgard as Seligman.
Just a small note on the ending. I’ve read several bad reviews that especially attacks the ending of this film…. I think this film could not have a more suitable ending- to me, it is Joe being judged, not necessarily by Seligman, but by the viewer throughout the entire film. Again, the matter of spectatorship and voyeurism. The fact that Seligman shows himself also as sexual, to me, is a comment on the viewer. We will often view someone as Joe as distasteful or sinful, but deep down the only difference between us and her is that biologically she is compelled to act upon it, we on the other hand, push those feelings down and down and then one day it materializes in something, exactly like what Seligman did.