Movie Review: Gaspar Noe’s ‘Love (3D)’ Is A Daring And Very Explicit Film

Greetings again from the darkness. It’s what would normally be categorized as a cold opening, but somehow the term doesn’t seem to fit the beginning of director Gaspar Noe’s daring new film. A beautifully lighted, static camera opening shot lasts for a few minutes. It’s startling in that the two people on screen are immersed in mutual manual stimulation in what has to be the most explicit and abrupt opening shot in film history. Red flags are waving … Mr. Noe’s exploration of love has little to do with meet-cute or Hollywood romance. Instead, he dives into the harsh realities of growing emotionally close to someone, and then having it crumble … leaving only memories and regrets.

Directly from that opening, we shoot ahead two years. Murphy (Karl Glusman) is now in bed with a different woman. A baby cries from another room. He goes to comfort the child as we get our first exposure to his inner-voice … he feels trapped and beaten down. There is obvious tension between Murphy and Omi (Klara Kristen) as she takes the child and he listens to a voice mail. It’s a frantic plea from the mother of his ex-girlfriend (we of course know it must be the one he/we became so intimate with in the opening). Electra (Aomi Muyock) has not been heard from in a couple of months, and suicide is a real concern.

This voice mail triggers an onslaught of memories for Murphy, and it becomes clear Electra was the love of his life. The memories are fired at us in the way memories do … sometimes quick, sometimes drawn out, and in a haphazard order that requires much assembly. We see Murphy’s and Electra’s good times and bad, understand how they mostly communicated through sex, and witness the turning point in their relationship – they invite their bright-eyed new neighbor into their bed. Just like Murphy, you may initially think Europeans are so cool and advanced to avoid the petty jealousies and possessiveness that Americans so value. However, the cool bubble pops quickly when in the blink of a faulty condom, the love of one’s life is gone and the morning is soon filled with the cries of a baby.

Much of the above is about the story and the characters; however, it would be an injustice to remain quiet on the unusual amount of sex … explicit sex acts … shown throughout the film. Director Noe (Enter the Void, Irresistible) has always been cutting edge, but a 3D sex-filled movie is pushing boundaries for most any movie viewer. It’s artfully filmed and presented, so the only thing it shares with porn is the explicit sex. It reminds of the Burt Reynolds character in Boogie Nights, whose dream was to make an artful mainstream porn movie. Perhaps that is what Mr. Noe has accomplished.

However one decides to label the film, it’s a no-holds-barred look at the stages of love and how it can go bad so quickly. It’s also an expose’ on the lack of emotional maturity of so many men (especially American) who somehow think “protecting” each other is a key relationship step. Murphy has one scene where he begs Electra to save them from his poor judgment, and another where he says “sometimes it’s better not to lie”. There is also a theme of French vs Americans, with an emphasis on American’s propensity for war/violence and possession, rather than freedom. It’s difficult to say if audiences are ready for Noe’s latest, but it’s clear he has something to say … and plenty to show.

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