As he usually does, Gaspar Noé causes a stir. Love, his new film in 3D had caused a ruckus on social media prior to its premier at Cannes Film Festival. You can see why though, when you Google the film’s theatrical poster, you get a smorgasbord of usually censored body parts. The main buzz however has been around the film’s un-simulated sex and the sparse amount of words; it is only a seven-page script. Yes, there is a lot of sex and you are warned of its “explicit sexual content ” at this year’s Melbourne Film Festival, however this is not a negative thing. This is an intimate experience on love and sexual desire expressed to the viewer as a whole concept.
The idea of showing love on screen is something that Noé explores through the character of Murphy (Karl Glusman), a passionate filmmaker wanting to express these ideals. Perhaps, at least subconsciously, he is Noé himself. Through Murphy’s first person perspective, Love goes back and forth in time, as we try to understand the situation. Murphy, Electra (Aomi Muyock) and Omi (Klara Kristin) are the three main characters. Opening in current time, Murphy is in a relationship with Omi and has a child, Gaspar (another point of reference to the director). He receives an alarming voice message from Electra’s mother, reporting she has not been heard from in months and fears the worst. The narrative then goes back in time, and pretty much stays there. The film becomes a much clearer and visceral experience of Murphy and Electra’s former relationship and their gradual breakdown, connecting what we already know about Omi and the current situation they’re in.
You know what you’re getting yourself into when you tackle Noé; it can be difficult, challenging and extreme. Usually people laugh or leave the cinema. This is normal and to be expected. But there comes a point in this when you really do need to laugh. This is just a natural reaction to what is normally not shown on screen. I mean, you get to witness Murphy cum on the film lens in 3D. It feels like Noé uses comedy to deliberately challenge and mock society. However, his way of combining porn and art cinema is just brilliant. And like most of the sex and desires the characters take part in, Love shows this purely and instinctively. It strips away any vulgarities associated with sex or body parts and acknowledges that this is something that should not be censored or covered up.
Love is about sex. It is beautiful and natural. Noé lets the sex convey the relationships and the mood realistically. No words are necessary and actions do speak louder. Although this is a lighter piece and more straightforward in comparison to his themes of rebirth in Enter the Void (2009), or the unwatchable rape and murder scenes of Irreversible (2002), it still has Noé’s signature touch and dark overtones. The music may be mostly tranquil, but during a fighting/club scene the use of doof-doof and metal is extreme and physically euphoric. And, there is the use of neon cinematography, reminiscent of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, that Noé so proudly uses to take the viewer on his trip.
His characters are well explored, but questionable nonetheless. They create both joy and destruction, and never leave you with answers or anything to be that happy about.
If there were a point of difference to his previous work, it would be seeing Noé now enhanced in 3D. This accomplishment (if he so needs it), directs our eyes to a new challenge on screen, and it’s another feature of Love that solidifies Noé as a true provocateur.
THE REEL SCORE: 9/10
NSFW work trailer: