Dir: Gaspar Noé (2015)
“I want to make films out of blood, sperm and tears” says Love‘s wannabe on-screen director, Murphy (Karl Glusman); The unflattering, jealous, pompous and all round unlikable alter-ego for Gaspar Noé. The Argentinian provocateur has left behind the unsettling technical violence of Irreversible and I Stand Alone to expand on the wandering style of his last, the stunning but slightly disappointing and self-indulgent Enter The Void. This time though, the obsession with death and drugs has been replaced with sex in all of it’s real, sweaty, squelchy forms; And in 3D.
An American in paris wakes with a hangover in a life he bitches about immediately; Murphy’s beautiful blonde girlfriend and his child seem to have already had enough of his moaning long ago and about 5 minutes into Love you’ll begin to understand why. This self-proclaimed dick is left alone to cheer up after an ex’s mother calls up wondering where her daughter is; Cue one long meditative trip back to long-lost love, Electra (Aomi Muyock) and the new (or old) couple’s fearless sexual endeavours. As Murphy slowly contacts old friends in the now we are taken further and further back (in Irreversible fashion) through a break up, a fateful threesome and an affair with a neighbour (Klara Kristin) to a mess of jealousy (with Noé in cameo as a gallery owner) and finally, way back, to the joy of new love.
The very real sex scenes which punctuate every 10 minutes of Love are certainly bold but sadly nothing new and certainly nothing exciting. They are, in fact quite boring, shot mostly through a bland static hovering camera, before Noé heads to the seedier side of the tracks; Each experience testing the couple’s limits and fears and each one taking us further and further from any semblance of character or real story. The wooden acting and the improvised porno-esque dialogue from a largely non professional cast is the main culprit outside of the bedroom; Overly long walk and talks where the “troubled” Electra and the “philosophical” Murphy talk about the meaning of life and movies seem to drag and drag before we’re “rewarded” with yet another quick roll in the hay.
It’s hard to think what Noé was thinking with Love. Much like Murphy’s character does, the director would argue that he wanted to make a film about “sex and sentimentality”; It’s perhaps a mistake then to present us with two of the most stilted and unlikable on-screen lovers in recent memory. There are moments of beauty towards the films final (but overly long) scenes and Noé steps to the occasion with some ballsy long takes; He still has a knack for not flinching or blinking at difficult cinema. Sadly, the worst and most obvious problem is there is very little chemistry, hardly a single spark or even a slight feeling of love in Love; Or if there is it seems incredibly naive, superficial and immature. Noé means well in attempting to make a film out of three bodily fluids but his voyeuristic approach feels like one long, cold, false move.