With its dreary pan-continental setting, random chapter headings, wry self-references, and indifferent handling of continuity, the full Nymphomaniac is a jigsaw opus, an extended and exquisitely crafted riff. Story, theme, and character (despite Gainsbourg's captivations) bow to von Trier's gamesmanship, which makes his own promiscuities the film's true subject. The images of sexuality are powerfully sterile, often mordantly hilarious. At one point, two African men argue an orgiastic point of order while a naked Gainsbourg sits ignored between them, framed by the impressive drawbridge of their erections.
By some mitigating, von Trier-ian necessity, the suffering of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) is never more wretched than when she finally claws back that orgasm -- it all feels most intimate when Nymphomaniac descends to the gallows.