LOVE (France/Belgium/IFI/135mins)
Directed by Gaspar Noe. Starring Karl Glusman Aomi Muyock, Klara Kristin, Vincent Maravel, Ugo Fox, Juan Saavedra, Benoit Debie, Stella Rocha.
THE PLOT: A young American in Paris, Murphy (Glusman) reckons his glorious rumpy-pumpy with the sexually-charged Electra (Muyock) could only get better if they invite their pretty neighbour, Omi (Kristin), into their bed. Only, it doesn’t quite work out that way. Murphy wants to make “sentimental sex films”, and he soon has plenty of material for the sex part (about half of this film is rumpy-pumpy, with gatherings of every kind and size), but it’s almost impossible to imagine such a cock-sure, would-be enfant terrible being capable of anything approaching a true sentiment…
THE VERDICT: Banned in Russia beause of its explicit sexual content, just as, most recently, with Lars von Trier’s ‘Nymphomaniac’, the latest cinematic mindfuck from the director of ‘Irreversible’ and ‘Enter The Void’ doesn’t quite live up to its red light window display. At times utterly seductive and at others closer to a molestation, Gaspar Noe’s would-be hard-hitting love story is hard to love.
In truth, closer to ‘The Dreamers’ and ‘9 Songs’ than ‘Last Tango In Paris’ or ‘In The Realm Of The Senses’, whatever about the thin red line between erotica and porn that arthouse has long used as a skipping rope, there’s no denying the oul’ love triangle at the centre of Noe’s latest is traditional in the extreme. A spurned lover taking on another but never quite getting over Kid A has been part of cinema’s language ever since trains starting pulling into theatres, and despite Noe’s trademark tricks – the Burroughs editing, the august Haneke harshness – there’s little new here to get, well, hard about.
Oh, and this is in 3D too. So, that’s another reason not to really bother with the bugger.
Review by Paul Byrne

Review by Paul Byrne
  • filmbuff2011

    Arch provocateur and enfant terrible of French cinema Gaspar Noe is back with his first film since 2009’s mind-warping Enter The Void. Love is an intoxicating, sexually-charged tale of amour fou – and in eye-popping 3D too. Murphy (Karl Glusman) is an American living in Paris who wakes up on New Year’s Day to find a text. It’s from the mother of his ex-girlfriend Electra (Aomi Muyock). She’s disappeared, causing her mother great concern. Murphy is now settled with Omi (Klara Kristin) and has a son. Ignoring his family for a while, he lets his mind drift backwards to still-deeply-rooted memories of Electra and his relationship with her. It starts with the end of the relationship, caused by Murphy impregnating their bi-curious neighbour Omi, who Murphy and Electra invite into their bed. But the cracks in the volatile, heated relationship between Murphy and Electra were already there before Omi came along. Nothing lasts forever… Love is quite different from that other film about love, Michael Haneke’s Amour. Noe’s film is about the mad rush of passion in young minds and bodies, unaware of the inevitability of its own downfall. Described by Noe as a love story seen from a sexual point of view, Love is a daring piece of cinema that straddles a fine line between being erotic and being pornographic. Yes, it’s sexually explicit but that’s nothing new in cinema (In The Realm Of The Senses and 9 Songs were there long before Noe). What Noe is trying to do is get past the mechanical act itself and distill the essence of what it means to be in love. No other film has quite captured the intoxicating, all-encompassing nature of love/sex since the stunning Blue Is The Warmest Colour. In a nightclub, Murphy asks a girl what’s the best thing in life. She says love first, he says sex is second. But then he says that sex while being in love is the best of all. Noe has a point there. The main cast is made up of non-professional actors. It shows in Glusman’s performance, who is a bit two-dimensional. More impressive is the eye-catching, intense Muyock, who could have a future career in film. Love can be a bit juvenile at times (there’s one particular shot that will make the film infamous for years). The prolonged sex scenes can also become a bit tiring, even if they’re artfully shot and try to be different each time around. However, there’s an honesty to it that is admirable. There’s humour in it too – even Noe indirectly references himself in the story. Most Hollywood films shy away from showing the raw, intense nature of a physical relationship due to the dreaded NC-17 rating. Noe has no interest in working under censorship constraints, simply telling a love story like it is in real life – the love, the physical passion, the emotion, the intensity, the arguments, the tears and the sadly inevitable breaking of hearts. Some viewers might find it pretentious, shallow and too much. Fans of Noe’s work like this reviewer will find much to admire in Love. For that is essentially what the film is about: love and everything that comes with it. ****