Saturday, October 31, 2015

Review: Love

Image courtesy of Alchemy. 
Those interested in the world of film will not be shocked to hear that French l'enfant terrible Gaspar Noe's latest provocation "Love" aims to take his particular brand of graphic cinema to the next level. On the other hand, you might be surprised to learn that the film is narratively more sedate than his notorious "Irreversible" or trippy "Enter the Void" and, unfortunately, almost to the point of being stultifying.

So, for every money shot - and in the case of this film, I'm not using this as a euphemism - there are endless scenes of the film's lead, Karl Glusman, walking about his Paris apartment talking to himself in voice-over on topics, such as why his previous relationship fell apart and why his current one doesn't satisfy him. It's the type of material that Woody Allen or Noah Baumbach could mine successfully in film after film, but for Noe it never catches.

"Love" is beautifully lit and very well shot, although it's musical cues are, well, unique to say the least. I don't know which one was more disorienting - the sequence during which Glusman and one of his lovers profess their undying love to one another in the shower to the tune of Erik Saties' "Gymnopedie No. 1" or the other during which Glusman and said lover take part in a graphically executed orgy while John Carpenter's score for "Assault on Precinct 13" blares over the speakers.

In terms of set up and plot, "Love" is fairly simple - in fact, too simple to justify the picture's near two-hour-and-20-minute running time - boy meets girl, girl suggests bringing in other girl, boy makes mistake of impregnating other girl, original girl gets mad and leaves, boy regrets staying with second girl, mother of original girl calls a few years later worried that her daughter might be suicidal and, well, you know the story.

When the actors - Glusman, Aomi Muyock and Klara Kristin - are not engaged in actual coitus - yes, nothing is left to the imagination here - we mostly follow flashback sequences during which Glusman and Muyock's character meet in a park, fall in love and, eventually, fall apart due to his jealousy, her drug habit and the aforementioned third girl played by Kristin. The abundant scenes of Glusman's voice-over monologues are all fairly standard stuff about the disintegration of relationships. In other words, no "Deep Thoughts" by Jack Handy here.

The numerous sex scenes are not - at least, I don't believe - meant to necessarily be considered sensuous, but rather matter-of-fact. The most interesting facet of Noe's film is, not surprisingly, its visual style.

The filmmaker's works always tend to be triumphs of style. His "Irreversible" is extremely disturbing and powerful, although its story is very simple. What makes gives it such a gut punch are its visuals and editing, which make the story seem all the more tragic. And while "Enter the Void" - which, like "Love" is a bit too long - lagged in some departments (character, story), it was filled with mesmerizing images.

So, "Love" is a good looking film, but it's missing something. And Noe asks his actors to not only bare all, but to engage in some very intimate activities here and the story and screenplay don't provide much in the way of meat (the need to crack wise here is nearly killing me, but I'll resist).

During one sequence, Glusman's movie director - which I italicize because during the course of the film we hardly see the guy shoot one frame of film - talks about how he wants to watch cinema about sex and love portrayed realistically. This is obviously what Noe wants to do as well and while he may have managed to do the first, he didn't quite succeed at the latter.

No comments:

Post a Comment