REVIEW: Love

6 02 2016

LoveWith an all-encompassing title like “Love,” one could expect Gaspar Noe to probe many different forms of love. The provocateur does explore many types of sex, but they all come back to one specific kind of a love – if one even wants to call it that. The film is little more than a collection of straight white American male fantasies, like an artful cobbling together of pornographic myths that dispenses with their artifice but maintains most of their misogyny.

“Love” follows the sexcapades of Karl Glusman’s Murphy, an American wannabe filmmaker living in Paris – presumptively because of the more libertine sexual attitudes. He loves fetishizing the openness of European women to meet all his carnal desire, be they in a three-way or at a public orgy. Noe frames most of Murphy’s debauchery in elegiac flashbacks to his penetrative glory days; not unlike “The Tree of Life,” he yearns for a paradise lost.

Murphy’s current misery is that he is unwittingly trapped in fatherhood after a broken condom during casual sex. Of course, it’s not with the woman he truly desires. Murphy happily embraces sex when it stimulates him but bemoans the act when it produces what is designed to do: produce a child. This shift in his view of sex also indicates a change in the way he sees women. They are wonderful when they only have to worry about being pleasure-makers but are nagging, cruel shrews once their focus shifts to their offspring.

Gaspar Noe Love

Perhaps the views of Murphy do not entirely line up with those of Noe. Consistent voiceover sets “Love” firmly in his mind, and posters for such films as “Taxi Driver” and “Salò” in Murphy’s room are not exactly meant to establish him as a warm presence. Still, just giving him protagonist status and a platform to trumpet his machismo while belittling women does not help Noe’s case.

In his defense, at least Noe engages with sex in its physical and emotional dimensions. Unlike another recent movie to flirt with hardcore representation, Lars Von Trier’s “Nymphomaniac,” Noe sees it as more than just an intellectual concept to be understood. To really come to some understanding of it, the passion needs to be felt. Noe has never shied away from extended depictions of sex, be it in the nightmarishly long subway tunnel assault of “Irreversible” or the glowing neon genitals in “Enter the Void.”

But in “Love,” sex gets more artful as it gets harder and more authentic. The love-making, if one could label the hedonistic acts as such, gets chopped up in the editing room and given additional dimension by music. Sex can be a wonderful symphonic experience, a piano sonata, throbbing techno or even soft instrumental rock. Any of these, of course, are more favorable than his kitchen-sink drama misery of domestic life. Noe is certainly entitled to prefer the carefree, youthful days of sleeping around, though he might have picked a more fitting title for such a narrow, puerile worldview. “Sex” probably would have worked best. B-2stars

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2 responses

7 02 2016
ninvoid99

This was definitely a better film than Nymphomaniac which lost steam in its second half as I was more into this one as well as the fact that it really showed love at its most raw no matter how explicit it is.

9 02 2016
Paragraph Film Reviews

Didn’t realise that this was out yet! I’m fascinated by Noe’s work, but thought that Enter The Void was a step in the wrong direction – the ending is essentially porn.

B- is a strong score for something this wild-looking, can’t wait to catch up with it.

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