Eroticism and despair against a brightly coloured Paris backdrop: we are talking about Gaspar Noé’s last film Love, a grotesque portrayal of a toxic love triangle in which sexual desire plays the role of the main character.
Shot in 3D, the story follows the washed-out romance between the main character Murphy (Karl Glusman), an english-speaking cinema student who moved to France, and Electra (Aomi Muyock), an emotionally unstable Parisian. The film is taken up with images of Murphy’s tragic ordinary life with a different girl, Omi, and their child, up until the life-changing phone call from Electra’s mother, who worried about her daughter asks Murphy for help. What follows is a catalogue of flashbacks about Murphy’s past, where every intimate detail of his tormented relationship with Electra is crudely displayed, from full-on sex scenes and cum shots, to heart-breaking dialogues and shocking revelations.
Gaspar Noé is by now known to be the kind of director that can’t possibly bore with his films. After horrifying his audience with movies permeated with extremely violent or incestuous scenes, like in I Stand Alone (1998) or the more recent Irreversible (2002), we could not expect less scandalous images in this movie.
The violence in this case is portrayed through the characters’ dialogues, with the brutal fights between Murphy and Electra, who perpetually seek opportunities to insult each other until the shocking event that tears the two apart.
What draws the audience’s attention throughout the movie is definitely the choice of light and colours: while Murphy’s present with Omi is depicted under a strong white light coming from the windows of his apartment, a plethora of red and dark shades pervade his flashbacks, suggesting erotic yet gloomy undertones. Not only does the cinematography seem to be meticulously studied, but also the characters’ costumes: with t-shirts, lingerie and even sheets matching the movie’s background, each scene seems to be wanting to scream what the characters are feeling, trapping the audience in an emotional roller coaster.
The soundtrack, on the other hand, donates a melancholic and disturbing -sometimes almost alarming- atmosphere to the plot, delivering the right portion of intimacy and suspense.
From beginning to end, Noé assaults our senses with strong images and sounds, rendering every close-up on the sexual intercourses surprisingly poetic.
The movie forces us to reassess our assumptions of passion and rationality, and perfectly frames the plot around a character incapable of escaping his own desires.
“A dick has one purpose: to fuck. And I fucked it all up” (Murphy)
By Erika Spadavecchia