While "Nymphomaniac: Vol. I" largely followed its heroine, Joe (played by Stacy Martin), as she developed her omnivorous sexual appetite and wielded her sexual power with impunity, "Vol. II" is where the bill comes due.

Charlotte Gainsbourg, playing the older Joe, dominates this chapter, which follows her unhappy marriage to Jerome (Shia LaBeouf); her loss of sexual sensation due to overuse; and her descent into emotionless masochism at the hands of a clinical sadist (Jamie Bell). Eventually she embraces her own inner dominatrix, working as a merciless debt collector for a loan shark (Willem Dafoe), who urges her to recruit and emotionally manipulate a young teen (Mia Goth) to become her protege.

Lars von Trier has spoken of wanting to make "a messy film," and "Nymphomaniac: Vol. II" is certainly that, overflowing with ideas, philosophy, digressions, pet peeves, religious visions, sex and even some humor (I can't remember the last time a von Trier film made me laugh out loud.) The scattershot approach will frustrate some, but the ending is potent and frames the entire four hours in a new light.

Nymphomaniac: Vol. II
DirectorLars von Trier
OpensNov. 1