Directed by Gasper Noe.
Starring Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman, Klara Kristin, Juan Saaveda, Vincent Maravel and Gasper Noe. 135 mins
If any other director made an explicit 3D sex film it would be seen as an opportunistic, gimmicky move. For Gasper Noe though it's a sign that he might be lightening up a bit. Noe's an upbeat nihilist; he'll wallow around in the pits of human behaviour but when he shows you what he's dug up it's always with a childlike sense of wonder. Love is claustrophobic and oppressive yet playful and silly. Its a style that takes some attuning to but it's worth sticking with. Noe's last film Enter The Void started out like it might be one of the most amazing films you'd ever seen but two and half hours later it had burned through most of your initial enthusiasm. Conversely, Love grows.
His best and most infamous film, Irreversible, ends with the title Time Destroys All Things. Time and the passing thereof does heaps of damage here but maybe, just maybe, something precious survives its ravages. Irreversible started at the grim end and worked its way back towards happier beginnings. Love starts with its lead character stuck in a cramped flat on a day of endless rain with his child and the woman he doesn't love (Kristin.) He receives news that the love of his life has disappeared and may have committed suicide. From there the film works its way back and forth through the course of their relataionship.
Murphy (Glusman) is an American living in a fantasy Paris where everybody speaks English, with his fantasy French girlfriend Elecktra (Muyock): Betty Blue hot but with Cotillard sophistication and Vanessa Paradis teeth. It seems like the American fantasy of how the world should be, but is rather a trap to slowly to expose all his vacuous pretensions and character limitations. A film student, Murphy talks grandly about how she is the love of his life and wanting to make a film about sexual love (a film a bit like “Love” maybe) but then cheats on her, is violently jealous and has his declarations of being liberated exposed when he gets squeamish during an encounter with a transsexual.
(Maybe Noe isn't quite as liberated as you'd expect – during a trip to a swingers club John Carpenter's menacing music for Assault on Precinct 13 can be heard on the soundtrack. That's not exactly enlightened.)
Initially Love shows all the signs of being a very bad film, with some ropey acting and heavy-handed dialogue: these are people who ask “Are you afraid of Death,” on a first date. Glusman is the only professional in the film but he is the one that seems the most phoney. He looks like a small boy trying to walk in Michael Shannon's shoes. In a sense all the main cast seem like inferior copies of movie stars with Kristen as a Patricia Arquette type and Muyouk a seamless hybrid of French female film stars, which gives the sense of life as a meagre copy of the movies.
An interesting family project might be a sweepstake on how many reviewers claim that the sex scenes are “boring” or “unerotic.” Clearly I must have a much duller sex life that the average film reviewer who spend their weekends throwing their house keys into a hat with Boris Johnson and the like, but I found the sex scenes plenty erotic. I'd guessitmate that between a third to a quarter of the running time is taken up in sex scenes and rather than become boring their repetition becomes a legitimate path into their lives. In any other mainstream film the sex scene is treated like a set piece, the same as a car chase or shoot out. In Love they are more like dialogue sequences. It's pornography, but benevolent pornography: a pornography that will make you happy not sad.
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Review of Romance