Love (18) | Close-Up Film Review
Dir. Gaspar Noé, France, 2015, 135 mins, in English and French with subtitles where appropriate
Cast: Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman, Klara Kristin
Just so’s you know, this film is depressing. It is sad. But it also has an excellent male-female-female threesome that lasts as long as the full Funkadelic track Maggot Brain (9 minutes, 51 seconds) takes to play on the soundtrack. Now, that sequence, dear reader, is what I call a cinematic event of the first magnitude.
Weirdly, Love has hard cock shots galore (of the main character’s little man) but no penetration shots …well I guess everyone knows where to go for that. On the other hand, Love also has one, but only one, male ejaculation in 3D, cummin right atcha, as it were. This suggests that Noé is a model of restraint in at least one respect, because surely a 3D sex film could bathe in the sticky glory of many such money shots?
It’s a grey New Year’s Day in Paris. Murphy (Klosman) wakes up when the phone rings. His ex-girlfriend’s mother tells him Electra (Muyock), the ex, has gone missing. Electra is deeply depressed, perhaps suicidal.
Despite the fact that Murphy has a new partner, Omi (Kristin) and a young son, he is depressed too. As the bitter day progresses, he reflects back on his relationship with Electra – and wonders how his life turned to shit.
I can’t think of a film that switches more manically between the highs and lows inherent in sexual relationships. Noé’s characters are themselves manic, switching between being hysterically energetic or torpidly depressed; but it’s a choice Noé has made for the visuals too. Love inhabits the same chemically mood-altered deadzone as his previous two films, Enter the Void and Irreversible. The lush visuals of the sex scenes are followed by the grey interiors that are a perfect fit for Murphy’s resentful inner monologue, as he returns from his memories to the numb self-loathing that characterises his present state.
There’s something wonderful, wilfully naïve, about the simple narrative and the one-dimensional, hormone-driven characters. Noé here doesn’t bother with the annoying disengaged mannerisms that characterised the characters in Enter the Void. This time we know what they want; the deadzone mood is ultimately the result of Noé’s aesthetic choices.
The sex is playful, erotic, slightly opiated. It’s the consequences that are the downer but not for any moral reasons; simply because the audience experiences the duration of the relationship spinning itself into oblivion, as relationships are wont to do.
There’s something simple and wonderful, youthful and alive about Noe’s Love, his gauche characters, their depressions and their obsessive dependencies. The film form matches these to great effect.
Review by Colin Dibben