Extreme provocateur auteur Gaspar Noé returns with the relationship drama Love.
Murphy (Karl Glusman) is trapped in a relationship with a woman he loathes, and who loathes him in return, but who is also the mother of his child. When the mother of a former lover, Electra (Aomi Muyok), phones worried, asking if he has heard from her, he replays their relationship in his mind, tracing the ups and downs and forcing him to confront his mistakes.
There is a reason the film is called Love and not Sex. Yes, the film does contain explicit scenes of sex and nudity, and is mostly known for it, but Noé has created a film that is about Love. It is about being in a relationship, a highly sexual relationship, and it is about loving someone emotionally as well as physically. Surprisingly, the film is often very tender in its representation of the central relationship and the sex within it. The sex scenes aren’t there for titillation, they are there to give a rounded and realistic view of the relationship between Murphy and Electra and they effectively convey the love and desire that exists in their relationship. Noé is taking head on one of the last big taboos in cinema. Films are perfectly happy to show scenes of drug taking, swearing and gratuitous violence and gore but still there is a prudishness from showing sex, a very normal and natural act that everyone participates in. In presenting it candidly, Noé has created one of the most believable and realistic relationships in cinema.
All relationships come with their ups and downs and Murphy and Electra’s is no different. Murphy is a deeply flawed character, he professes his undying love to Electra but then cheats on her several times, a slave to his sexual desires and yet he is a hypocrite, talking his way out of his own mistakes but then screaming at Electra for doing the very same things. Electra and Murphy are toxic to each other, bringing out their best and worst aspects, and their relationship burns brightly before exploding.
Love is not without its flaws. As with other Noé films it is far too long, at 135 minutes our interest did wane at points, and this is part of the film’s self-indulgence. Murphy’s views on cinema are very similar to Noé’s and Noé even turns up as a gallery owner whose name is Noe. Its timeline is also a little messy, making it difficult to place certain dramatic events in the right sequence, partially dulling the overall dramatic effect of the relationship.
Gaspar Noé has made an interesting but flawed film. It won’t be to a lot of peoples taste but there is a refreshing honesty here and if you can look past the flaws you will find an interesting and honest relationship drama.
LOVE / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: GASPAR NOÉ / SCREENPLAY: GASPAR NOÉ / STARRING: AOMI MUYOK, KARL GLUSMAN, KLARA KRISTIN / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW