Starring: Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman
Director: Gaspar Noe
Like the same director’s Irreversible, Gaspar Noe’s Love gropes back from a miserable present to a golden past. Struggling with fatherhood and stuck in a loveless marriage, American in Paris Murphy (Karl Glusman) wonders how he ended up with the wrong girl – with safe, domesticated Omi (Klara Kristin) rather than with wild, exciting Electra (Aomi Muyock).
Utilizing a few tricks from the Lars Von Trier playbook, the film adopts a stream of consciousness approach as he muses on his current state of ennui and on his lost grand passion. There’s a certain elegance to the unfolding of the facts of their relationship. Beyond that, though, all is messiness and chaos.
With its long takes and improvisatory performance style, Love is a film which is wide open to accusations of self-indulgence. And there’s undoubtedly a gaucheness to some of the dialogue and a sameyness to a few of the scenes between the central couple – although one brilliant scene where Murphy and Electra tear strips off each other in the back of a cab as they’re driven through the streets of Paris is as searingly explosive as anything in recent cinema.
And did Noe really mean to make Murphy so boorishly unsympathetic? If he did, you can call it a brave, honest stab at demolishing the male psyche with its machismo and preening vanity. But nicer characters would have been more fun to watch.
It’s around these sorts of issues that critical opinion of Love is likely to divide. Get past this, though, and running through it like an incurable itch iis an interesting question: is sex too volatile a basis for a lasting relationship? And while Noe’s attempt to answer this isn’t especially coherent or conclusive, it certainly can’t be faulted for a sense of urgency or seriousness.
As for the film’s controversial sex scenes, Noe does something with them which no one else seems able to manage, namely to give the impression that his characters put the best of themselves into these slithering, horizontal encounters. It’s a heartening, surprisingly touching achievement, and for that reason alone Love is a unique piece of work. 7/10