Love is beautiful. Love is joyful. Love is a distraction. Love is tumultuous. Love is temptation. Love is sticky. Love is messy. Love is difficult. Love can be a bitch.
Love is Gaspar Noe’s new movie, an immersive experience that spurts in your face and slaps while you have a post-coital smoke. Noe has made his profondorosso amour. His lead protagonist, an American in Paris by the name of Murphy (Karl Glusman), who wants to be a successful film director spouts this at the girl he’s just met; “I want to make movies out of blood, sperm and tears.” He’s determined to capture an elusive element: sentimental sexuality.
Nearly fifteen years ago, Noe, the enfant terrible of French extreme cinema, wanted to make a film about a relationship that depicted actual sex, and so he approached Vincent Cassell and Monica Bellucci, a couple at the time, and propositioned them. They declined, and frustrated Noe developed an alternate proposition, which became Irreversible (2002).
Noe has realised his vanity project, and it smacks so hard of narcissism the mirror almost shatters. Just as Michael Winterbottom attempted with 9 Songs, and numerous other directors before him, with only a clutch of successful entries, he attempts to make a serious drama with actual sex performed by the lead actors. Problem is, this kind of experiment never wholly succeeds. This is why the porn industry has existed alongside mainstream cinema, but very, very rarely crossing over.
The biggest problem with Love isn’t that it’s a badly made. In terms of its production values, it’s a handsome looking piece. The three lead actors, including AomiMuock as Electra and KlaraKrstin As Omi, are good-looking and the sex scenes are mildly erotic, but hardly realistic. Love is by no means an erotic masterpiece, which I’m sure Noe was counting on delivering, but then he’s the first one to blow his own horn. My main beef is with the lead character: Murphy’s a thoroughly unlikeable, an arrogant prick, to be honest. And the audience is stuck with this asshole wallowing in the mud of his own making – infidelity and a subsequent parental trap – for over two hours.
Noe’s Love is a chore and a bore, which kills any modern romance one might’ve hoped for. In fact, I’d sooner return to Caligula or In The Realm of the Senses, which for all their nihilism and futility, at least have colourful characters and genuinely edgy sexuality, which provides a splash of interest outside of the emotional upheaval and absurd dramatics. Actually, I’d probably just watch a bushy 70s porn flick, and skip the pseudo-intellectual foreplay altogether.
— Love film review written by Bryn Tilly of cultprojections.com