I've been told that the whole intention behind this "depression trilogy" thing would be portraying women in such an absurd way that one should think afterwards that such misogynistic views are ridicule in themselves. That's kinda a good interpretation for these movies. If so, there is a deadly failure within this narrative, though: it's fucking cinema, it's massive, and any viewer would look for verosimilitude in it. Be it a boring, mimetical biopic like Spotlight, or an over-the-top trip into testosterone like Armageddon. A sane audience will enter a theater/Netflix wanting to believe.
Other way of watching these movies is just taking what's given through the very movie and make Lars von Trier's intentions an expendable element in the narrative: Antichrist would be a gratuitous version of I Spit on your Grave, and Melancholia is the ultimate first world problems' bullshit movie.
All hipster bs concerning the director beside, I think Nymphomaniac is the only one that states something crystal clean, and that's summarized by the very movie towards its ending. I think there are two ways of interpreting the last scene: one is
a dark comedy kind of funny way of saying, "Fuck it, I don't want MUH movie to be THAT explicit with the moral, I'm an artist hurr durr I must be obscure"; and the other is
your classical post-modern amoralism, so typical of people afraid to side with something. Imo the movie goes for the first one, even though they are closely related and it's absolute separate them with no gray areas.
Anyway, I believe there's no use for reaching a conclusion on what a movie represents just for its ending. If there's something that anyone could articulate throughout the movie, is that an absolutely free fulfilling of female sexual desire will get a woman's life ruined
not necessarily with the mafia, though, but still (i.e., it'll have shitty consequences) as things now are, at least.
No surprise here though, Lars von Trier successfully dumbs down women with a credibility American Pie would love to have. Yeah, it's no Melancholia, but the dialogues between the protagonist and the male figure make this even more obvious than watching WWE. It is a good thing that the male figure, though, illustrated things that may have seem gratuitous, or just a treat from a hipster director to his hipster friends
(for example, I'm p sure nobody was supposed to know that the representations in the spontaneous orgasm sequence were the Whore of Babylon and Messalina; if so, the director is full of shit). Contrary to Antichrist or Melancholia, where the male figures are as well subordinated to an obscure intention behind the plot
(psychiatric medicalization and astrology, seriously?) that clears out the yet obscure intention of portraying women in a ridiculously, unbelievable idiotic way although there is a hella lot of people who believe in
psychiatric medicalization's and astrology's effectiveness, so, uhm, whatever. On the other side, given that the male figure here is "asexual", one could interpret its role as a comment from the very author on the very narrative he develops, like in a conversation, in which the feminine isn't dumbed down, but is placed along with an audience who is reflecting upon the story too. In this case the male figure could be regarded either as a de facto male figure or some kind of asexual, agender, supernatural agent (the way angels are in Catholicism). If the former, the male figure could be a representation that merges the masculine and the author(ity); in the latter, the allegedly non-sexual supernatural represented as something intrinsecally sexual, i.e., a man (Christian symbolism lol)
(God as a rapist lol).
There is a really funny thing I think it's done intentionally in this movie and, as far as I remember, only Tarantino does: Using the actors as symbols, i.e., giving a fictional character connotations associated to the actor portraying it just by the fact one specific actor is portraying one specific character. I mean, I know directors do it all the time when using De Niro, Clint Eastwood, Al Pacino, Megan Fox, Schwarzenegger... you get it. The difference here is that imo when it's usually done there's always some caricature pathos where the actors play their roles, but here they're tridimentional characters with caricature-like aspects in their personalities. Shia Le Bouf's character is more an asshole because it's played by Shia Le Bouf, Uma Thurman's character is funnier bc she's Tarantino's cool girl, Willem Dafoe's characters have Willem Dafoe's face, and so on. I think this meta-narrative element also suggests that the fucked-up woman in Antichrist may be an abstraction of an aspect of the feminine, just like the nyhmphomaniac is an abstraction of feminine sexual desire. Even though if the director were playing with this, there still are seriously misogynistic (in the actual sense, more than in the SWJ one) shit this guy has to deal with, if not making himself clear about. Other kinda funny thing from this "depression trilogy" is that there's a shared universe, not in a literary sense (as in Pixar's completionist fan theories) but more in a symbolic one. Not only the main actress represent something similar in all the movies, but I'd say the blondes (a functional repression of sexual desire), the male children (responsibility as well as an equal in authority), the young men (impersonalized figures driven by obscure control axioms), older men (wisdom, power), etc. Even that part where the song from Antichrist pops up the same meaning remains, which to me is like when Hollywood films use that Jimmy Hendrix theme whenever they wanna idealize the invasion of Vietnam, or when they play Born to be Wild. The same effect.
There is another really good thing about this movie: It can be verosimilarly perverse when telling a story within the movie in a manner, say, Salò coudln't. Probably because Pasolini didn't use any racconti, though. Still, the fact that a story like the nymphomaniac's can be placed successfully outside utterly abstract scenarios (say, 50 Shades of Grey and, once again, Salò) is for me a sign that von Trier not only is a good director, but also a good writer (dumb lines in the movies beside), even though I'm not a fan of him nor this movie.