Love - Festival Review
The only love provocateur Gaspar Noé communes to his audience in Love, is the epic and evidently infinite love he holds for himself. Or perhaps it’s lust.
...That’s a line I would have used if I hated Love, but quite the contrary, I sorta loved Love. Even all the playful pretentiousness: the crew cameos, the characters and places who take Gaspar's name, the Enter The Void easter eggs, and the deluge of easy film posters like Birth Of A Nation, Salo, A Clockwork Orange, and a plentiful slew of others, are all good fun. The self-referential tendencies of Love are so burlesque and prominent that it’s clearly assimilated with the humor and ridiculousness of it all. Though, the audience will likely laugh thinking otherwise.
If you’re not hating Noé for those reasons, he has more to offer you: explicit and real 3D sex between his actors. But it’s not just erotic, it’s part of the storytelling. When Murphy and his girlfriend Electra decide to enact their ultimate fantasy, a three-way with a blonde included, the positioning of their bodies is telling of the dangers to come. Murphy is static as the girls change positions. They alternate as wedges between Murphy and Electra, or Murphy and Omi (The blonde). The aesthetics and logistics of the sex are always influenced by the emotions between the characters involved, sometimes it’s slow, sometimes it's fast, sometimes the frame frames the face separate from the body, and sometimes the body separate from the face.
Gaspar owes much of Love’s success to his cinematographer Benoît Debie (Spring Breakers, Enter The Void, Irreversible, Lost River) who uses 3D lovingly, giving depth into the frame as well as out. Farther planes feel farther, and closer ones closer, with everything else in various increments in between. Color, despite the 3D glasses capacity to drain it, is rendered beautifully on 35mm. Love is a photographic feat that’s always enticing to look at. That is, unless Gaspar isn’t pulling his weight; some script deficiencies lead to lulls and awkward dialogue (an issue that plagued Enter The Void), and if you’re not on board for Gaspar’s deliberately faux-artsy partier with a heavy inner rage protagonist, Murphy will do nothing to appease you. But if you’ve ever been in or witnessed this sort of intoxicating, addicting relationship full of high highs and plummeting lows, Love will shock you with enough penetrative truths and explorations to smooth out any negative reservations you came in with.