Alright. Where do I start with a film like LOVE? Gaspar Noe’s films are this whole thing: Dread and loathing, horror and confrontation, and yes, incredible amounts of self-indulgence, skirting around the edges of farce. Is he laughing at us while he offers us these dragging, challenging movies? Or is he trying to create something that, while riddled with innuendo and disaster, unintentionally doubles back on itself and has us cynically rolling our eyes? Is he ahead of his time like a genius, or does he merely have his finger on the pulse?
I’m sure you’re waiting for a synopsis, so here it is: Murphy, an American (a clichéd American, might I add – crass, vulgar and a bit of a pig), and his French girlfriend, Electra, have all sorts of sex. They’re in a relationship and they fuck each other silly. Eventually, because they lead vapid, inconsequential lives, they decide to fuck their neighbor too. And, shockingly, it doesn’t end as well as they hoped. The petty dramas of their small lives lead to more drama, and more fucking.
Wait, there’s more. It’s in 3-D. That is correct. You get to see a bunch of big old 3-D dicks blowing their loads in your face. If I sound like the aforementioned vulgar American, well, as Whitman says, “Do I contradict myself? Very well then, I contradict myself.” Art, man. Art.
The cinematography is stunning, with Noe’s signature winding, beautiful shots that never seem to end. The soundtrack, unreal. Maggot Brain is playing during the threesome. Now that is sexy. And then, if I’m not mistaken, John Frusciante’s version of Maggot Brain is playing in the background when Murphy goes off and fucks the neighbor on his own (yes, SPOILER ALERT, mother fuckers).
The film is supposed to be a movie about sentimental love, encompassing sex. But if Noe’s offering a perspective on sexualized relationships, it’s a pretty narrow view. For example, LOVE shows a sexual interaction with a trans person as both grotesque and comic.
The couple speaks of love, but then only seem to represent it as a selfish, juvenile, possessive experience, instead of love as a transcendent human process of emotional growth. There’s no depth here. It’s just Young People Fucking. Oh wait, that’s already a movie.
Other reviewers only wanted to mention the shocking explicit sex scenes, or debate whether or not LOVE is “pornography.” (Welcome to our society. The whole experience of human life is a debaucherous, sprawling, self-indulgent wasteland. 3-D dicks in your face at the movies? Why not? At least Noe didn’t inundate us with another horrific rape scene like in Irreversible.)
Vice, of course, called Noe “the most notorious punk rock auteur in cinema today.” You know what I call him? A predator. That’s what I call someone who shoves his penis in my face without asking me first. I don’t see what’s “punk rock,” about showing a woman getting graphically raped. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should, know what I’m sayin’? Does something become Art on the merits of explicit trauma alone?
That a film can stir up a reaction in its audience is powerful, however, and is, in a way, a testament to its success.
That LOVE sprawled on for a groaning three hours and a bit could be considered a statement itself, on the relationships we often find ourselves in: sexual possessive affairs that drag on longer than they often should.
In closing, I ask the following questions: Is Gaspar Noe self-indulgent? Probably. Every hard-working artist creating thought-provoking projects has delusions of grandeur in one way or another.
Is LOVE pornography? Well, if watching penises penetrate vaginas on a screen is porn, then yes, LOVE is porn. Just because there’s some scrappy boyfriend-girlfriend drama and a better soundtrack than the bow-chica-bow-wow of your average Pay-Per-View doesn’t mean that it’s not porn. Then again, no porn I’ve ever watched required 3-D glasses…
In closing again (Gaspar, you’ve inspired me to indulgently drag things out and do false endings. What do you think of that?), I read that Noe reads all his bad reviews. I hope he reads this one.
Gaspar, if you’re reading this, you illicit passionate responses from your audience. I would call that an artistic success. But I never want to see your penis again.