LOVE, Gaspar Noé’s latest movie is a movie that caused a lot of controversy. Some have described it as a sentimental drama while others call it a pornographic movie.
On the morning of January 1st, Murphy wakes up beside his young wife and his two year old child. He listens to a voice message. Electra, his old love, is worried about her daughter who disappeared. Murphy will then recall his tumultuous love story with Electra, a story of passion with promises, games, and excess.
Born from a three page script and a lot of improvisation, the film showcases the story of a passionate love through all its aspects including sex – well, especially sex. Noé said he wanted to film lust and passion because he felt it wasn’t shown enough in current productions. He had the idea of this film a long time ago and had asked Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci to take the lead roles, a proposal that the couple declined.
The first scene in LOVE is a couple masturbating each other, and it definitely sets the atmosphere. We should certainly not expect less of Noé, who said LOVE is a movie with “blood, semen and tears.” But above all, he wanted LOVE to be the story of a passionate love with sex, lots of sex. In fact, a love story that is not only always happy and cheerful, but exposed to jealousy, arguments, promises and mistakes as well.
The sex scenes are not simulated and the long takes don’t allow for the loss of any detail in the movement of the lovers. Certainly these sex scenes are numerous, but they are neither exciting nor unbearable, and they are not meant to be. They are sculptural, aesthetic, and poetic. Benoit Debie’s cinematography certainly plays a major role in this. The lighting (bright-dark) and the hypnotic music (Erik Satie, Death in Vegas, Funkadelic, to name a few) made these scenes watchable, and not disturbing at all.
The narration is not linear; it is rather reversed and is interrupted by rapid black fades like blinks. It switches from one moment to another, as if the memory is taking over the present.
What I personally have trouble with is that I felt the film was a bit sexist. Mainly, it’s about male pleasure: we only see Murphy having orgasms during the movie. Having the male perspective as the only high point brings us back to straight porn.
Murphy, who tells the story from his own perspective, is a character for whom it is hard to have sympathy or empathy. The character lacks expressions and is not engaging. He is selfish and immature in his needs and point of views.
And what about the scene? Yes, the famous scene of ejaculation while facing the camera in 3D is somewhat surprising. Not because we did not expect it – of course we did! We have heard so much about it – but I have to admit that it was disturbing. And I was wondering what was the purpose of such a scene. Surely there is none. But Noé is a provocateur; he always wants to go beyond the boundaries of political correctness and doesn’t always seek to convey a message. When asked about the significance of any symbolism in his films, he often answers he just finds it aesthetically beautiful.
LOVE is now playing in theatres.