There are formal similarities to Dogville, too, though not straightforward ones; what Dogville does with the more theatrical aspects of cinema - stripping down sets to a near-barren sound stage, so you are constantly aware of the film's artifice - is done here with storytelling and language. Each episode in the film is derived from the narration of Joe (Charlotte Gainsbourg) to Seligman (Stellan Skarsgård), which serves as the film's frame, but there are also constant textual asides and references to other works of art or literature - from manuals on fly fishing to Biblical allusions to articulate digressions on Bach, or rock climbing, or Russian religious icons. There are even stories within stories, used to demonstrate the power of narrative (as when Gainsbourg gains the upper hand on a male character by pulling down his shorts and offering him different erotic scenarios until she finds one that stiffens him). Whatever we take the theme of Nymphomaniac to be - I will dodge that question - chances are, it is explicitly tabled and discussed at some point in the film. Even a clever visual pun - that of a fishing fly embedded in the plaster of the room - needs to be expressed in words in this film, so you can get the joke (of being a "fly on the wall" during Joe's confessional; the joke escaped notice until underscored with dialogue and then seemed all too obvious).
All I have left are random observations - that Ms. Gainsbourg is very good, and sings the end song (a cleverly-picked cover of "Hey, Joe") herself; that my favourite segment of the film is actually the first few minutes, before the Rammstein sets in, as we see shots of an alley, snow, and trickling water, and enter into a brief, Tarkovskian (or Bela-Tarrish) rapture of engaged cinematic perception; that the second part is the funnier, bolder, more dynamic half of the film, and ends on a rather satisfying punchline that is worth sticking around for - so don't just see the first half! (Tom Charity noted at the press screening that a discount applies to those seeing both halves of the film; you don't have to pay two full admission prices). There is also a very curious thank you in the end credits to Lars Ulrich of Metallica, which I don't really understand but find apt - Lars von Trier is every bit as much "some kind of monster" as Metallica, at this point, at least as far as this film is concerned. Plus the whole thing about the fishing fly - about disguising a hook so that it looks like something the fish likes - is as apt and striking a metaphor for von Trier's cinema as I've ever encountered. He's not making genre films - but meta-cinema disguised as genre films, to hook us gullible fish. The film succeeds well enough at doing that, though I'm getting a bit tired of meta-cinema in general, these days. The cocks, at least, are kind of fresh.