By: Mark Barber
Love is about reconciling romance with sex; something its director, French provocateur Gaspar Noé, and the film’s main protagonist, Murphy (Karl Glusman), agree on. Whether or not Noé is successful in marrying romance and sex (and whether they are even really that diametrically opposed outside of some conceptions of pornography) doesn’t matter. Love faults in so many other ways, it’s easy to ignore its ambition.
Love tells the story of the turbulent relationship of two young adults living in Paris, Murphy and Electra (Aomi Muyock). Their relationship is defined by illicit drug use, frequent intercourse, and dramatic affairs with other people. Told mostly through non-linear flashbacks, Murphy recounts the story of their volatile relationship from its beginning to its soapy end.
Noé traditionally works within the provocative and taboo-breaking French New Extremism movement. Love wants to be about the body in all its abject excesses, which is partly the reason the film was shot in 3D. For instance, the audience is treated to at least two sequences involving a close-up of ejaculation. While the 3D is novel for these sequences, it’s hard to see a reason why the rest of the film needs the illusion of three dimensions. Like most films, Noé’s experimentation with 3D seems more gimmicky than meaningful.
Noé perhaps too closely identifies with Murphy, which gives the film an uncomfortably phallocentric perspective. While the film faults both sexes for the downfall of their relationship, our inability to penetrate Electra’s emotional psyche through a similar subjectivity is discomforting.
While Love deserves some praise for being a sex-positive film, its shoddy script, mostly pointless use of 3D, and problematic characterizations make it something of a train wreck.
Love screens at TIFF on:
Tuesday, September 15 at 8:45 p.m. @ Ryerson
Thursday, September 17 at 6:00 p.m. @ TIFF Bell Lightbox
Language: English, French
Runtime: 134 minutes
For more information on the festival, visit the official TIFF webpage here.
Buy tickets here.
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