This review contains spoilers.
Don’t read it if you don’t wanna know.
We had the place to ourselves for one of the first times after being surrounded by a houseful of family and friends over the holiday season, so Ess looked up “Sexiest Movies on Netflix” and selected Gaspar Noé‘s 2015 film Love for us to watch as a sexy preamble to our own lovemaking. We were hoping for porn with an interesting story line. We got the porn.
We were hoping for porn with an interesting story line. We got the porn.
Folks, we watched this dreck so that you don’t have to. If you’re gonna anyway, then we might recommend having the fast-forward button handy. This is 2 hours and 15 minutes of plodding plot, trite writing, hackneyed dialogue, and stilted acting — punctuated liberally with plenty of hot (non-simulated) sex scenes. So if you sign up for the steamy sex and you either don’t mind fast-forwarding through the horrible in-between bits or slogging through the super tedious exposition, laughably cliché dialogue, and glacially slow storyline pacing, you might enjoy this film.
Folks, we watched this dreck so that you don’t have to.
I mean, if we’re honest, we didn’t make it all the way through to the end — not because it was so hot that we couldn’t keep our lust contained that long, but because we wound up caring so little about the characters or how it turned out for them. Truly, sex with each other was a LOT more interesting than whatever was going to continue to happen on screen after the first hour and 45 minutes. I did get up this morning and watch the rest though, so that (A) I could write an informed review and (B) I could be confirmed as smugly right about how awful it was…right up to the end.
There was some good to the film. Ess appreciated the lighting in many of the shots, including most of the sex scenes. It is a visually pretty film, for the most part — if a bit dark and brooding. Let’s call it self-consciously European, and you’ve got the idea. This is what Americans expect, we think, from artsy sex films about young lovers in Paris.
The story is pretty simple. Murphy (Karl Glusman) is a young American ostensibly in France for college. He meets Electra (Aomi Muyock) and they fall hopelessly in love almost immediately. “In love” in this case means sexually insatiable, emotionally clingy/desperate, and vastly immature….anyone who’s been around the block for a bit would recognize it as infatuation rather than love. We suppose that if you bought into Romeo & Juliet’s adolescent love as true love, you might be OK with Murphy and Electra’s.
When Murphy asks Electra about her number one sexual fantasy, she replies that she’d like to have a threesome with him and a blue-eyed blonde woman. Enter Omi (Klara Kristin), a new neighbor who fits the description perfectly. In rapid succession, the three of them get high and engage in a steamy ménage à trois. Nevermind that as they chat pre-coitus, Omi reveals that she is almost — but not quite — seventeen years old.
With little to no plot development after the threesome, we next see Murphy flirting across the way from Omi, telling her that Electra is out of town for a few days. Omi — naturally — invites him over and they — naturally — have sex. The condom breaks and Omi ends up pregnant. When Murphy tells Electra, she flies into a heartbroken rage and leaves him. The rest of the film is about Murphy kicking himself for making bad decisions, pining away for Electra — who has gone missing — and whining about his new life with a teenage wife/baby mama (?) and their son. He seems to have some genuine affection for the boy, but spends most of the movie wishing Omi would just shut up about real life already, and cursing himself for losing Electra.
One of the things that makes the film so horrible is listening to Murphy’s adolescent whining in the form of an incessantly petulant voiceover.
The story is told in a series of flashbacks from Murphy’s perspective. After opening with an extensive scene of Murphy and Electra masturbating each other (actually quite sexy), the film cuts immediately to Murphy, Omi, and their son as a two year old. It works back through the tale of how he got to be there and so, so miserable. Though, to be honest, there’s not really a time in any of the flashbacks when he doesn’t come across as miserable and moody. For example, after their first romantic sexual encounter, Murphy’s choice of post-coital conversation in the shower involves asking Electra, à propos of nothing, “Are you afraid of death?” Eye-rollingly trite with the doom and gloom, this guy. One of the things that makes the film so horrible is listening to Murphy’s adolescent whining in the form of an incessantly petulant voiceover. [Murphy’s one moment of levity crops up when he’s asking Murphy about her family and Noé has him triumphantly crow, “Electra has daddy issues!” As if that’s not ham-fisted at all. Severest of eye-rolls here.]
Noé likes him some foreshadowing, that’s for certain. There is no shortage of it, from the moment Omi tells us she was an unwanted child with parents who don’t care about her (creating the opening for a weird we-literally-just-met-but-let’s-talk-about-abortion-over-lunch conversation) to the multiple times Murphy and Electra make each other solemnly promise to “protect each other” (usually right before one or the other does something potentially hurtful to the other) to Electra’s comment that she fears pain more than death and would rather commit suicide (we never find out if she made good on that, by the way), to her quip that if they ever broke up she’d probably disappear. We get it, Gaspar.
But, I mean, these are pretty people having sex. So that’s something. Though we suppose it’s worth mentioning that you have to be OK with natural body hair, à la France, to appreciate it. We are. Not everyone may be. It was originally shot in 3D, and some of the steamy scenes are obviously, quite gratuitously geared toward that medium. I’m sure the scene with Murphy’s cum shooting straight out of his cock toward the camera was cinematically stunning in 3D (yes, I’m rolling my eyes…again).
For those of us in the LS, there are a couple of plot points to note.
For those of us in the LS, there are a couple of plot points to note. The way the three end up in bed together with apparently no discussion of boundaries or expectations is certainly one of them. Then there’s the kind French policeman’s advice to a very drunk Murphy who is reeling from jealousy over other men’s attention to Electra. He is advised to take her to a sex club and let her (and himself) enjoy other people rather than cling to his jealousy-inspiring American ideas of possession and fidelity. So, of course, the very next scene takes place in an erotic club where Murphy and Electra both enjoy several other people sexually — but then Murphy immediately screams at her about being slutty and unfaithful to him. Because, you know, their love is so very real and deep and lasting.
Sorry, I may have lapsed into a permanent eye-roll at this point.
It is, all-in-all, just Gaspar Noé getting himself off on whatever it is he thinks is great about himself.
It’s no wonder this film opens with a masturbation scene. It is, all-in-all, just Gaspar Noé getting himself off on whatever it is he thinks is great about himself. Clues? He gives Murphy’s character an obsession with naming a son Gaspar (both when talking to Electra about having children and when he actually names his son with Omi), and he makes Electra’s past lover’s name Noé. (I think I just threw up in my mouth a little). Need more evidence? Murphy’s character is, in fact, an aspiring film maker who waxes philosophical ad nauseam about making the perfect movie about the interplay of love and sex.
Got news for you, Gaspar: This ain’t it.
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