After a less than rapturous welcome at the recent Cannes Film Festival, the general public now has the chance to judge whether the latest film from provocative French director Gaspar Noé was worth all the fuss. Love is Noé’s semi-autobiographical story of a director who wants to make a film about “sentimental sexuality” Noé certainly fulfills the second half of the bargain as true to form Love has scene after scene of the two main characters copulating, shot by the director from every angle. And there’s not just a twosome, but a threesome and a foursome plus one hard-core scene in a sex club. How very French, but does this all add up to a compelling story about the link between love and sex? Not really. There’s something very adolescent about the relationship between would-be film director Murphy (Karl Glusman) and his art student girlfriend Electra (Aomi Muyock). Most of the time the two act like a couple of lovestruck teen-agers. And without the multiple adult sex scenes, Love is no more than the tale of a man who lets the love of his life slip away and ends up trapped in a sterile relationship with another woman Omi (Klara Kristin). To make matters worse, Noé sees fit to indulge in some pointless in-jokes – Murphy’s baby son is called Gaspar, while Electra’s ex-boyfriend runs an art gallery called Noé’s and is played by Noé himself wearing a ridiculous wig. He even appears on the final credits as Aron Pages, an anagram of his own name. It’s all very dull and uninteresting and not worthy of the man behind the award winning Irréversible.
Murphy, a young American at film school in Paris, meets Electra, a French art student, at a party. The two fall madly in love and embark on an intense, highly passionate relationship. After the relationship has ended, Murphy recevies a phone call from Electra’s mother saying her daughter has gone missing. The call is the trigger for a flashback trip down memory lane for Murphy as he reminisces about his love for Electra and how he managed to let her go.
It’s a mystery why Noé chose to shoot Love in 3D, a format more usually reserved for blockbuster, action films. The sex scenes are graphic enough without the additional visual aid and it brings nothing of note to the impact of the story. While at least half of the film is given over to the sexual relationship between Murphy and Electra, the rest of the film is crippled by dialogue and behaviour worthy of the most trite of teen movies. Murphy endlessly confesses his undying love for Electra, he becomes uncontrollably jealous if he sees her with other men and, best of all, he boldly announces the best sex is with a partner one loves while shamelessly sleeping around with other woman. He embodies everything there is to dislike about a cocky, arrogant, opinionated American in Paris, while Electra is a poster girl for the pouty, mysterious, sexually adventurous French woman.
Glusman fails to turn Murphy into a credible, even moderately likeable character and was perhaps cast for his other obvious attributes. Throw in some grating plot devices such as all the French characters speaking heavily accented English even when talking to each other and Murphy’s morose voiceover and Love is an over-hyped disappointment.
DIRECTOR’S BIO – GASPAR NOE