Directed by Gaspar Noe
Starring Karl Glusman, Aomi Muyock, and Klara Kristin
Murphy is an American living in Paris who enters a highly sexually and emotionally charged relationship with the unstable Electra. Unaware of the effect it will have on their relationship, they invite their pretty neighbor into their bed.
“Do you know what my biggest dream in life is? My biggest dream is to make a movie that truly depicts sentimental sexuality.”
Taboo French auteur Gaspar Noe has a clear mission with his latest arthouse voyeuristic treat simply titled Love, and he bashes that point relentlessly over your head like that guy in Irreversible repeatedly smashing another guy’s face in with a fire extinguisher. Seriously, if you haven’t seen that movie, either watch it or at least check out that aforementioned scene; it’s literally the most violent moment in all the history of cinema, and more importantly, one of the biggest contributing factors as to why I’m such a dedicated fan of the director.
Back to my point, Love is Gaspar Noe asking audiences the age-old question of why sex has to be so unrealistic, tame, boring, shy; and unremarkable whenever in the context of film. Naturally, we know it is a matter of mainstream censors and artistic restraints holding filmmakers back, but considering that love is the strongest emotion a living entity could feel, would it really be that bad and out of place to showcase it with genuine enthusiasm and raw passion?
I won’t lie, it’s beyond frustrating watching two lovebirds engage in sexual activities only to cover themselves up in bed sheets or make thrusts and gyrations when both participants clearly have their bottoms still on, but I’m also not sure unsimulated graphic sex has its place in cinema. Noe is essentially stringing together numerous rough lovemaking scenes wrapped around the story of a relationship broken up leaving everyone involved lost in life and in a state of depression.
The key problem with Love however is that Noe is so self-indulgent this time around, there is little room to emotionally connect with the characters. It also doesn’t really help that the narrative is told in a haze of non-chronological flashbacks to happier times. When you aren’t trying to empathize with someone, you’re often left trying to figure out at what point in the relationship you’re witnessing. Then again, it doesn’t really matter because Love is usually five minutes away from depicting more sordid pointless material.
Stereotypical character tropes only make things even worse. Murphy is an American student studying film in France, who typically raises his voice and gets violent in the name of love defending his girlfriend, because that’s apparently the American way, or something. At one point he also delivers the quote I decided to open this review with, which honestly made me want to cut my own ears off; we know what your goal of this movie is Noe, we saw the 27 sex scenes that preceded this bit of dialogue.
The script also wallows in misery, often giving Love‘s characters laughably bad nihilistic exchanges between one another, bogged down by pretentious drivel. Even the actors blatantly have no idea how some lines should even be delivered, leaving the film a mess. It’s possible to connect with and understand characters even if you necessarily don’t like their attitude or personalities, but when they’re amateurishly delivering horrible dialogue it’s really, really hard to muster up a fuck to give about anything going on in the movie.
Despite the harsh words I just dished out on Love, Noe does accomplish his goal. Anyone who has ever seen one of his films knows that his visual storytelling and framing of scenes is superb, meaning that so many scenes here, especially the sex, are quite honestly beautifully captured. They are all unsimulated and are shot from varying angles (overhead shots, intimate bed level shots, distant shots, etc) and are heightened in sensibilities with an unforgettable soundtrack featuring everything from Pink Floyd to Brian Eno to John Carpenter, and more. The sex is successfully depicted as art, coming across as gateways into the minds of its characters, whether the situation is meant to be romantic or haunting. Still, it does eventually become repetitive and unbearable, which coincidentally sums up Love in a nutshell.
With that said, I admire Gaspar Noe and his deeply affectionate willingness to push the boundaries of cinema and take full advantage of its expressive benefits. As a director he is unhinged and unable to restrain his vision, which is something that sometimes works for him and other times against him. Either way, fearless auteurs like Noe are rare and should be appreciated; we need more of them.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook