TIFF ’15: ‘Love’ proves you can have too much of a good thing

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Noe Love Poster

Love
Written & Directed by Gaspar Noé
France/Belgium, 2015

Most filmmakers portray love stories like rocket-ships exploding into the air—they’re only interested in the story of the ship’s ascent into the stratosphere. Other filmmakers show more interest in remaining at ground-zero, cynically anticipating a love-rockets tragic descent back down to earth. In his latest film Love, French provocateur Gaspar Noé “straps the audience on” to that metaphorical love-rocket and never cuts them loose. In Love, Noé spends time weaving in and out of the fragmented memories of a man’s past relationship, showcasing the director’s equal measures of enthusiasm for examining love’s unsustainable ascent as well as foraging about in its emotional wreckage.

On New Year’s Day — a day typically reserved for self-reflection — Murphy (Karl Glusman) receives a call from an old flame’s mother, who is panicked over not hearing from her daughter Electra (Aomi Muyock) in months. The call plunges Murphy into a bout of introspection, and Love’s story sets itself adrift in the ebb and flow of Murphy’s recollections of his former lover. The film jumps back and forth between their first meeting, their break up and all the little moments in between.

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Love’s big draw is its explicit sexual content: there is a lot of it. The sex is unsimulated (they aren’t acting folks), the sex happens often and the sex is in 3D. Love is an act of rebellion against the cinematic standard of depicting sex as an act that only occurs in the early stages of romance. Noé wants the audience to understand couples sustain sexual intimacy throughout their relationship. Noé’s goal is not to shock but to trivialize sex and he is successful in his objective. By the end of the 2-hour film, audiences will have viewed so many three-dimensional breasts, penises, and vaginas that they will crave a movie that’s PG-13.

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