It is more obvious now that writer/director Lars van Trier originally made a single four hour film cut up for U.S. distribution. Vol. 2 picks up immediately where Vol. 1 ends and continues the story of Joe, the woman found beaten in an alley and tended to by Seligman.
Vol. 1 centered on Joe as a young woman discovering her sexuality. As we begin the second half, the adult Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) has lost all sexual stimulation and begins a descent into extreme kinds of sex in order to experience orgasm. She continues to relate her story to Seligman (Stellen Skarsgard) who passes no judgement and finds ways to wax philosophical about her increasingly strange life. Mr. van Trier has a odd sense of humor and while there are a few disturbing yet somehow humorous scenes, most of Vol. 2 takes a more serious and darker tone.
Shia LeBeouf returns as Jerome and as in Vol.1 is still embarrassing to watch. Jamie Bell co-stars now as "K", a sadistic young man who invites women to knowingly and willingly be tied up and beaten. It's a brave but brutal role and I give Mr. Bell credit for taking on the challenge. Willem Defoe also has a small part as a shadowy figure who gives Joe a job as an unusual debt collector.
As with all his films, Mr. van Trier is daring and provocative but after four hours of emotionless sex and various shots of both male and female genitalia sprinkled in between ridiculous dialog, you will find yourself bored rather than aroused. It all "climaxes" in an ending I found utterly repulsive and unnecessary.