(Originally published November 19 2015)
Provocative French filmmaker Gaspar Noé (‘Enter the Void’, ‘Irreversible’) returns for a rather bold look at passion and sexuality. Told from the perspective of Murphy (Karl Glusman), he begins reminiscing about his life with Electra (Aomi Muyock) after getting a phone call from her mother saying that she has been missing for two months. On top of that, it forces him to examine his current relationship with Omi (Klara Kristin), a woman he accidentally got pregnant cheating on Electra with after all three of them had an erotic encounter together.
Noé seems to have two objectives with this story: a personal exploration of how unbridled passions can drive and utterly consume us, and to break down certain barriers when it comes to sexually explicit content. It has been described as ‘pornographic’ by several people, but it wants to be open and uninhibited with its evaluation of sex and how it defines us. None of the sex scenes were choreographed, and it gives them a more authentic vibe that allows the couple to feel more intimate.
Part of this intimacy seems to be giving it a certain personal touch. A lot of the characters are named after Noé or important people in his life (he even appears in the film). It’s like he shares his characters’ intimacy with the audience and himself. That is probably Love’s greatest strength; even with the flashy images and stunning cinematography, there’s this sense that we are really exploring these people’s sexualities and what it means to them. The title ‘Love’ almost feels like a joke, as our protagonists have a very poor understanding of what love is, if they understand it at all.
Going back to the cinematography, you can’t fault this work for its technical prowess. It plays out of chronological order (a staple of the filmmaker, though not as aggressively framed as his previous two films), but repeated scenery and camera work give a sense of connectivity. The music is also great, feeling varied and nuanced, adding distinctiveness to certain scenes (like the threesome).
The film does have a few hang ups. The actors are not very experienced, and while they handle most of the scenes admirably, they do feel stilted and unnatural in certain moments. While the soundtrack is great, some of it can be jarring and strange. There are also one or two moments that feel a bit too forced, like the ‘oops baby!’ scene or the abortion discussion.
Wher you love (hah!) it or hate it, Love will likely not leave your mind. While people may be turned off by the, for lack of better term, nakedness, repetitive sex scenes, and uncomfortable moments, it’s one of the more unique viewing experiences around lately and definitely worth your time. Whether you need a cold or hot shower afterwards.
Oh, and be sure to watch out for the 3D splash effect…