“No one has ever made a sentimental movie about sexuality!” declares Love’s main character, drunk and high at a party. His name is Murphy (Karl Glusman) and he’s an aspiring American filmmaker studying in Paris, a bit like Love’s director, the divisive Gaspar Noé. Whether it’s through a VHS tape or a scale model or a baby named Gaspar, Noé is at the center of Love, making it the personal work of an auteur. You may like or dislike Noé’s sensibility, as you may like or dislike Wes Anderson’s, yet you must acknowledge the vision. Love is not—as so many films are—a product of a consortium. The film is set on a rainy New Year’s Day. Murphy wakes up, hungover and angry and in mourning of a failed relationship with Electra (Aomi Muyock), who may or may not have committed suicide recently. The remainder of the movie is a meandering flashback about that relationship with Electra. There isn’t too much subtlety in Love, which is otherwise more mellow, less violent, than Noé’s previous major works. Murphy is not likeable: he’s often obstinate, hypocritical, selfish. Yet he’s not the sociopathic butcher of I Stand Alone nor a nymphomaniac, rather, an impetuous young man, sliding into the follies and dalliances that accompany youth. Style supercedes substance. Credit DP Benoît Debie for creating Love’s beautiful look, although the 3D rendering made the film too dark. Some of the longer static shots are intercut with a black screen, giving us the impression that we’re blinking. The mix of music, albeit sometimes too loud, comprises the work of John Carpenter, John Frusciante, and Johann Sebastian Bach. We wished there would be more interiority à la the voiceover at the beginning of the movie. Ultimately, Love is nothing if not masturbatory: there are several ejaculation shots. Do we need to see that? Noé thinks we do.
By Alec Julian & Carrie White