Genre: Drama, Romance
Directed by: Gaspar Noé
Starring: Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman, Klara Kristin
Love begins with an intense moment of playful passion, which watches a young couple as they engage in a meaningful moment of mutual masturbation. Outside we hear rain pattering gently against the window, the tranquil sounds of peace interrupted only by the sighs of pleasure effervescing from those seen on the screen. It’s a stunning opening – ballsy in its execution, as well as in a literal sense – that’s fueled by a fervent fire of lust and desire. An eruption of energy and emotion that’s guaranteed to arouse…what a shame that everything else you see in Love leaves you so limp.
Having shocked us with Irréversible and stunned us with Enter The Void, nauseatingly narcissistic French filmmaker Gaspar Noé – who once more acts as both writer and director – obviously hopes to seduce us with this salacious epic. The purpose is not simply to provoke, there’s a clear determination here to draw you in and stimulate all your senses. On paper, the plot appears to be more than just a parable of a couple indulging in insatiable sexual intercourse. The narrative focus rests on Murphy (Karl Glusman), an American living in Paris with his young wife Omi (Klara Kristin) and their 2-year-old child. One morning Murphy awakens to discover that his former girlfriend Electra (Aomi Muyock) is missing, moving him to longingly lament on his erotically charged past.It’s designed to be a discourse on desire and adolescent amour fou, with aspirations to push boundaries in the way that Pasolini did with Salò and Andy Warhol achieved in Flesh for Frankenstein – both of which are directly referenced during the course of the film. In reality, however, Noé’s Love is little more than a frustratingly flaccid fuck fest that deconstructs relationships with all the honesty of a fake orgasm, and which is performed by actors so stilted they’d fail to raise the value of a low-rent porn film.
There’s an insistence in the script to try and justify the film’s graphic displays of sexuality, which would have certainly made for an interesting tangent had it been given any opportunity to develop. But here everything is secondary to Noé’s criterion of capturing the sensual splendor of physical intercourse. DP Benoît Debie’s use of CinemaScope lenses does succeed in suffusing such scenes with seductively sordid rouge shadings, but the decision to shoot in 3D is a redundant one; only truly utilised by the director when he wants to spray the audience with bodily fluids.
As for the sex itself, a detrimental lack of onscreen chemistry between the three leads means there’s never any hint of the quivering, vigorous heat we’re meant to believe exists between the three characters. Indeed, the only truly animalistic acting comes from Karl Glusman, who proceeds to spend much of the mind-numbingly merciless runtime burying his nose in any available orifice he can find with the gusto of a pig hunting for truffles.