Daily | Cannes 2015 | Gaspar Noé’s LOVE



“Gaspar Noé may be the only director in history who could make a two-and-a-quarter-hours-long pornographic film in 3D and then have it legitimately described as his least offensive picture to date,” begins the Telegraph‘s Robbie Collin. “Love, Noé’s fourth feature, marks a significant departure for the filmmaker once at the forefront of the stomach-churning filmmaking movement known as the New French Extremity. Unlike his previous three features, I Stand Alone, Irreversible and Enter the Void, which stupefied the viewer with shocks, here the aim is to suck shock out of the moving image like venom from a snakebite. Love is interested in showing us one of the last movie-world taboos, real sex, over and over again, until watching it feels like the most natural thing in the world.”

“It is snoozingly overlong and almost comically self indulgent,” writes the Playlist‘s Jessica Kiang. “I can’t remember any other director ever simultaneously imagining himself as the empty-headed, dickish but pretty leading man (an aspiring filmmaker who namechecks 2001 as is Noé’s wont); the leading lady’s older, married ex-boyfriend (who is called Noé); and a fetus (the baby is going to be called Gaspar even before he is born)…. Additionally, it is heteronormative to its core, casually homophobic in language at times, and un-casually transphobic in its chickenshit treatment of its one transgender sex scene…. And yet Noe, aided by DP Benoît Debie, does know a thing or two about arranging a scene for maximum beauty, and here seems to have been inspired to shoot the too-many acts of vigorous boning with a surprisingly lyrical wash over the graphic details of penises, pubic hair, boobs and bums (no vaginas, though, except once from the inside).”

Karl Glusman plays Murphy, “an American living in Paris who spends the entire film recounting his messy relationship with two beautiful women, Electra (Aomi Muyock) and Omi (Klara Kristin),” writes Adam Woodward at Little White Lies. “For a while everything seems rosy in this ménage à trois, until one of the women announces to Murphy that she’s pregnant, forcing him to take responsibility for his actions. An area he’s not exactly proficient in…. The sex scenes themselves (and there are many) are surprisingly tasteful and tender… But Noé makes a nasty habit of spoiling the mood. When the characters aren’t screaming in ecstasy, they’re just screaming. At each other—a lot. It’s exhausting and, thanks to the trite dialogue, mostly pointless.”

Time Out‘s Dave Calhoun notes that Love “has many of the foibles of porn—bad dialogue, can-I-borrow-some-sugar plotting… In the end, Love is more silly than sordid, and even a little soppy in its late—too late—love-filled moments. Many teens will love it; most adults will roll their eyes.”

In Screen, Jonathan Romney suggests that “in terms of graphic content, it’s fairly tame compared to Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac; but then it also lacks that film’s ambition and literate wit. Love’s over-insistent harping on angst and a very callow brand of film-student philosophy, together with a curiously oppressive overall mood, make it a more claustrophobic experience than an enlightening or arousing one.”

“As ever with sexually explicit films,” writes the Guardian‘s Peter Bradshaw, “some airy sophisticates here at Cannes are going to claim that they found Love ‘boring.’ I guarantee it. And I can only say that like Pinocchio, their noses are growing—and leave it at that. Love is crass, and ridiculous and often uproarious. The three actors involved are not joining the RSC or giving their interpretation of Aristophanes or Miller any time soon. But Love is a raunchy vaudeville with a surreal streak of despair. That’s entertainment.”

“With overt references to past drug use, Love clearly functions as a sincere mea culpa to lover(s) Noé may have wronged along the way,” suggests Variety‘s Peter Debruge. “Though extremely precise in its every composition, it feels less Kubrickian than the director’s other work. Surprisingly, Noé seems to be channeling Terrence Malick for a change, offering up an atheistic (and X-rated) twist on To the Wonder, with its hovering camera, gobbledygooky narration and melancholy choice between two women, neither of whom he deserves.”

If Love “feels tonally very different from Noe’s earlier work,” writes the Hollywood Reporter‘s Leslie Felperin, “there is still an abundance of tiny, stylistic flourishes that evoke to his back catalog: there’s the bitter, voiced-over thoughts that echo the protagonist of Seul contre tous [I Stand Alone]; the time shuffling that’s of a piece with Irreversible…; a flashing bulb that conjures the 2001-style trip sequence in Enter the Void, and much else beside.”

“Love plays out like the fragmented outline for a more engaging movie,” finds Indiewire‘s Eric Kohn. “But the one found here lacks substance both on the level of story and graphic reveals.” HitFix‘s Gregory Ellwood does find “one sliver of genuine intimacy that appears through all of the noise and distraction. A sliver of true intimacy that is rarely seen in narrative film.”

Screen‘s Melanie Goodfellow reports that Wild Bunch will be selling Love “in more than 36 territories.”

Updates, 5/22: “Noé’s film is pornographic without being pornography,” writes Mike D’Angelo at the Dissolve. “On the contrary, it’s an almost painfully earnest hindsight portrait of a failed relationship, in which the graphic fucking is just one of several crucial elements.” That said: “Remove all the X-rated material from Love and it would look like an arty version of (500) Days of Summer, witlessly written and performed by amateurs.”

“For all his pretentiousness and oddness,” writes Donald Clarke in the Irish Times, “Noé remains one of the most fascinating voices in contemporary cinema. In films such as Irreversible and Enter the Void, the Argentinean-born Frenchman showed fresh ways of misshaping cinematic reality through sickening camera angles and throbbing sound. In Love, a more low-key project than either of those two admired films, cinematographer Benoît Debie has strapped down his camera, tightened the focus and allowed startling jumps between different perspectives…. All this is welcome. Unfortunately the characters in Love are enormously tedious and their adventures are deadeningly (yes) boring.”

“The production values may be appreciably higher than your average porno but in terms of the quality of its plot, dialogue and performances, Love is not that far off.” writes Giovanni Marchini Camia at the Film Stage. “Murphy and Electra’s relationship revolves around little else than having sex, getting high and saying how much they love each other, which mainly translates to filling the dead time between intercourse with eruptions of jealousy and prolonged bouts of hysterical screaming…. The one saving grace is the soundtrack, as the sex is accompanied by a consistently amazing choice of instrumental tracks that range from classical (Bach and Satie), to atmospheric synth (John Carpenter), to experimental rock (John Frusciante and Pink Floyd), offering some compensation for the vigor lacking on screen.”

For Aaron Hillis, dispatching to Filmmaker, Love is “callow, shallow and numbingly insipid, despite its explicit mélange of blowjobs, threesomes and orgies.” More from Nicholas Bell (Ioncinema, 2.5/5), Kyle Buchanan (Vulture) and Ben Kenigsberg and Barbara Scharres (

Updates, 5/23: Love is “the least aesthetically outrageous thing the Argentinian-born director has ever made,” writes Ignatiy Vishnevetsky at the AV Club. It’s “woodenly earnest stuff, fixated on the same childlike oaths of protection as Noé’s other work and very eager to explain itself…. Despite all this, Love is fitfully compelling as an exercise in limited style and psychological interiority.” Noé “retains a knack for visual composition and for the tenor of urban nightlife; his frames have the geometry of graphic novel panels and third-person, open-world games. An argument staged in silhouette in the back of a taxi makes bold, dramatic use of 3D, and laser lights and strobes confuse the visual planes of a night club scene.”

“Surprisingly, while Love is as dumb as one might imagine, it isn’t quite as mean,” finds Adam Cook, writing for Movie Mezzanine. “That doesn’t exactly make for something to celebrate, but it’s still a step forward for the French would-be auteur.”

“Utterly insufferable as much as he’s provocatively talented, Gaspar Noé doesn’t make movies so much as he throws dares at his audience,” writes Tim Grierson for Paste. “Take him as seriously as he takes himself and you’re on the road to ruin. Chuckle at the irascible asshole he is, and you’ll get out alive.” Love “is too long, too self-indulgent and too maddeningly precious in its flamboyant attempt to depict the mother of all bad-love scenarios. And yet, if you can get on Love’s mad, ridiculous wavelength, it can be transporting. This movie is a big mess, and also way more fun than it has any right being.”

“Noé’s need to provoke may sometimes be reminiscent of a child proudly showing everyone where he pooped on the carpet, but there’s no question of his talent,” writes Buzzfeed‘s Alison Willmore. And Nigel M. Smith talks with him for Indiewire.

Update, 5/25: “I don’t think Gaspar Noé quite understands what throwing his film into his clod-headed hero’s memories implies or what it allows him to do as a storyteller,” writes Daniel Kasman in the Notebook. “Love‘s flashbacks are more about a structural interest in relationships and their plotting through time, as in Noé’s Irreversible (2002), rather than what leaving behind ‘real’ time can free a character, a mindstate, a body or a film to do, a freedom his last movie, Enter the Void takes to the max.”

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