Saturday, 26 March 2016

LOVE (2015) - REVIEW

While not the first film to have unsimulated sex portrayed in 3D, Gaspar Noe's Love has this gimmick as its main selling point, I suppose to illicit a dreamy, all encompassing feeling, as well as to have the novelty of a ejaculation point blank in front of your face. However, watching Love in 2D looses some of the edge it was sold on, leaving me to focus more on its story.

Told through a series of flashback's, Murphy (Karl Glusman) wake's up on the morning of January the 1st to a voice mail from ex-girlfriend's Electra's mother, saying that she hasn't seen her in a while and is worried. In a muttering narration of his thoughts, we find out that Murphy is in an unhappy marriage and hating his life. Sporadic events from his past are recounted to the audience, and we learn that Electra (Aomi Muyock) may of been the love of his life, but it was the night when they decided to indulge their fantasy of a threesome with their new young blond neighbour that their relationship dramatically falls apart. Murphy, unable to control his lust, decides to sleep again with their neighbour Omi (Klara Kristin), but the condom breaks and he gets her pregnant.

The experience of Murphy recalling his past with Electra is like the mind's own meandering way's, as the story in told in a non-liner fashion. A recollection of a fight builds onto a memory of another fight, before drifting away into more tender scene's, accenting by lush cinematography and the encompassing glow of red lighting. An interesting feature is the directors uses of intermittent and quick fades to black, like an eye blinking, which served to remind us that these are Murphy's memories; perhaps this is all he can see as he drifts through his day, half high on drugs and half sick with worry.

As with a lot of films that deal with love as its subject matter, the characters sharply switch between moments of lovey-dovey serenity and screaming arguments. Unfortunately, its hard to believe that Murphy intends any of his declarations to protect and love Electra when he constantly insists on cheating on her and demeaning her. From the get go in their relationship, he is on the prowl for her, and there is repeated, if slightly subtle, confessions from Electra that she isn't emotionally stable. Indeed, it becomes painfully aware that she has invested too much in this relationship when she states that she might have to disappear if their relationship ever ends. Apart from dramatic statements and the sex, their relationship seems forever on the brink of collapse, and it is painful to watch them treat each with such disrespect.

The trend for explicit art house films, from 9 Songs to Nymphomaniac to Blue is the Warmest Colour, sees to have no end in sight. Love tries to justify it by having Murphy, himself a film student, state that he wants to make films about "sentimental sexuality", because sex when you're in love is the best, and so Murphy's recollections about him and Electra might be him making his sentimentally sexual film out of memories. But yes, we are pretty much watching porn through bits of this film, sex which becomes increasingly uncomfortable the more the film goes on. Could it be toned down? Maybe, if you really wanted to, but these are the memories of a man who is a slave to his libido.

Unlike Nymphomaniac, who had a charismatic lead in Charlotte Gainsburg's Joe, who was proud of her sexuality, Murphy is forever punishing people for his misdeed's, and of which made him one of the most detestable people I've seen in a movie lately. This is man who within a single breath declares his love for Electra, then calls her a selfish cunt. Nobody in this movie is perfect, Electra herself cheats on Murphy, but we see things through his perspective, and therefore his hypocrisies. This is a story of a man who's ex-girlfriend might of committed suicide, but he's just upset that he didn't get to have his cake and eat it too.

It is hard not to admire Noe's method of storytelling, and BenoƮt Debie's cinematography makes some scene's look like sumptuous paintings, but I have a hard time relating to, or even trying to sympathise, with a man who treats his partners with such contempt. With a depressing story told as ineffectually as this, Love may not be the raunchy date movie you was looking for.



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