Director: Gaspar Noé
Genre: Erotic Drama
With a penchant for hyperactive lighting, propulsive camerawork, and shock value, Gaspar Noé is a South American-turned-European auteur known for his striking visuals and notorious for his everything else. A cineaste devoted to bad taste and hugely polarizing experimental cinema, bring up Noé’s name to any film fan and you will not be met with a mild response. Cut to his latest: after a five-year hiatus, he presents a 3D exploration of love itself, filled with unsimulated sex and, literally, in your face, erm, money-shots. Beyond the semen, sweat, and tears, Gaspar Noé posits that love is a sick drug. Falling for a person and living with them is like consuming and violently falling out of narcotics, the highs and lows coming to define you. Seat a high school student in a poetry workshop for 30 minutes and they’re likely to produce a similar sentiment. As a long-awaited follow-up to ENTER THE VOID, a remarkable sensorial achievement of modern art and trash cinema, LOVE dramatically disappoints, chiefly due to the fact that Noé really doesn’t have all that much to say about his subject. But, oh, does he have a lot to show.
SALO, M and BIRTH OF A NATION posters adorn the main character’s walls, a bullish American filmmaking student abroad in Paris. In one of several Linklater-inspired walk-and-talks, he rambles on about how 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY is the greatest film of all-time. He names his son Gaspar. His nemesis is named Noé, played by the director himself, and the admittedly stellar soundtrack is strictly composed of tracks he rated five stars on iTunes. Hell, there’s a diorama of ENTER THE VOID’s infamous Love Hotel in the background of an apartment. Just as NYMPHOMANIAC, a similarly explicitly marketed, taboo-shattering romp was to Von Trier, LOVE serves as Gaspar’s mission statement and career encapsulation. All roads have led to this: a tedious grappling with his love for others and for filmmaking, a self-reflexive disaster wherein the line between tongue-in-cheek and sentimentality blurs, and the messages are conveyed about as gently as a donkey punch.
“This just in: film director likes movies!”
Serving as conveyors are some truly insufferable youngins, lusty and lustful, who embark on a tragic romance. Being a Gaspar Noé film, the catalyst for their eventual heartbreak is, of course, a threesome. The couple spends the movie fluctuating between tantric sex and vicious, yet wholly weightless yelling matches. Noé is a brilliant illusionist, but Edward Albee he is not. Repetitive, overlong, and narratively light, LOVE becomes an annoyingly provoking bore, its challenges feeling more like when your ex likes your latest Instagram post than an upfront confrontation. The drama is petty and a waste of time.
Young love has never been more irritating
What is utterly impressive about LOVE, however, is that even with an eight-page script, completely improvised dialogue, a five-week shooting schedule, non-choreographed sex scenes, and only eight-hour shooting days, it’s still so visually rich and gorgeous. This is essentially his Mumblecore movie and it looks like borderline Kubrick. The aforementioned threesome is framed so simply, yet so elegantly that the mashing bodies form a Picasso. The man is a genius, which makes LOVE such a confounding paradox, a film existing in two dimensions, being both sumptuously meticulous and utterly lazy. You’re better off reading some Brontë while Redtube plays in the background.
Verdict: Do Not Recommend