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New Release Review - LOVE

Fearing she may have taken her life, a young man mourns for his lost love.


Review by Eric Hillis (@hilliseric)

Directed by: Gaspar Noe

Starring: Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman, Klara Kristin


"If Noe could team himself with a writer to add some depth and nuance to his glorious visuals, we'd be talking about him in the same breath as Von Trier and Haneke, but the more he indulges himself, the more he becomes a caricature - the auteur as troll."





There's a lot that's annoying about 3D. One of the most distracting aspects involves the integration of subtitles. Seeing text floating in front of your eyes is disconcerting and has a distancing effect, as if that extra fake dimension wasn't enough of a barrier. We've had few 3D movies from outside the English speaking world, so it hasn't been much of an issue so far. Going into Gaspar Noe's Love, I assumed I would have to deal with floating text, but despite the movie taking place in Paris, there isn't a word of French spoken. That's chiefly because the movie features an American protagonist, but even when its French characters are speaking among themselves, they speak English. This tells you two things about Noe - he doesn't want his 3D aesthetic sullied by hovering text, and he doesn't give two hoots about his movie making sense.
There's not a whole lot to Noe's latest. In narrative terms it's his most accessible work to date, employing a simple flashback structure that plays for the most part in linear fashion. Noe opens with his American expat anti-hero Murphy (Karl Glusman), living in Paris with Omi (Klara Kristin), the young mother of his infant son (whom Noe cheekily names after himself). A crude voiceover from Murphy tells us how much he resents his current situation, and longs to be reunited with Electra (Aomi Muyock), the troubled woman he fell head over heels for two years prior. When Murphy receives a worried voicemail from Electra's mother, he fears she may have taken her life, and at this point the movie recounts their doomed relationship, including a threesome with Omi.
Is Love a sensitive, mature examination of sex or simply a gimmicky 'sexploitation' pic? Well, it's a little from column A, a little from column B. The movie never quite reaches its goal, but there's a sincerity to Noe's work here that suggests he may have just bitten off more than he can chew by trying to translate 'sentimental sexuality' (as his on-screen surrogate Murphy labels it) to film. It doesn't help that his trio of lovers never really convince us that they give a damn about each other, and are all too clearly simply going through the motions in their unsimulated sex scenes.
As Noe's career progresses, it's becoming clear that he's a filmmaker who said everything he wanted to say in his explosive debut, 1998's I Stand Alone, and now is simply transferring his cinephilia to screen. On top of the Pasolini posters and discussions of 2001: A Space Odyssey, the sex scenes here are scored to John Carpenter and Goblin soundtracks, which I appreciate as a horror fan, but as with Tarantino's similar co-opting, it proves awfully distracting. If anything, Love feels like little more than a cobbled together frame for Noe's experiments in the third dimension, but apart from some bodily fluids sprayed at the audience, there's little to justify his choice of the format, even if he does insist on dressing Murphy and Electra in green and red coats, like the plastic lens of old school 3D glasses.
Love is the latest 'arthouse' movie to boast explicit sex scenes as its selling point, but as with most of these films, it's essentially little more than a beautifully shot, X-rated soap opera, populated with the sort of drama you can find on afternoon TV. If Noe could team himself with a writer to add some depth and nuance to his glorious visuals, we'd be talking about him in the same breath as Von Trier and Haneke, but the more he indulges himself, the more he becomes a caricature - the auteur as troll.
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