Gaspar Noé’s ‘Love’ is an Artful Rollick of Sentimental Sexuality in 3D

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As far as blockbusters go, the visual gimmick of 3D has run its course. Outside of foreign markets like China, interest in 3D cinema has quickly died down. A number of major releases still employ the gimmick, like The Martian, with little addition to the overall film outside the extra earning potential at the box office. But just because 3D isn’t always spectacular in today’s spectacle films doesn’t mean that there’s nowhere else to take stereoscopic visuals. The most interesting use of 3D comes from auteurs challenging themselves and audiences by dabbling in what is most typically a gimmick. The latest auteur to take on 3D is Gaspar Noé with Love, an exploration of a doomed relationship presented in with an artful third dimension. But the artful photography and the emotionally honest storyline of “sentimental sexuality” will be overshadowed for many by the explicit sex scenes that make up much of Love’s running time.

Murphy (Karl Glusman) is an American living in Paris with his wife Omi (Klara Kristin) and their young child. As he informs us through narration, Murphy is dissatisfied with his current way of life and doesn’t exactly have much affection for Omi. When Murphy receives a call from the mother of his ex-girlfriend, who hasn’t spoken to her daughter and fears for her safety, he begins to reminisce about the love that faded from his life. He thinks back to moments of jealousy and moments of unbridled sexual passion between himself and Electra (Aomi Muyock). But their relationship wasn’t meant to last as Murphy and Electra get into a number of lovers’ quarrels, each young and full of a lifetime of mistakes in their future.

It would be simplistic to refer to the graphic sex scenes in Love as pornography. The intent isn’t simply the basest sexual fantasies, but to explore a relationship through every aspect, including moments of sex. As an aspiring filmmaker, Murphy explains that he wants to make a movie that explores “sentimental sexuality,” and that’s just was Gaspar Noé pulls off with Love. Many of the sex scenes are presented with a static camera, still and gazing at the moments of sexual intercourse. And the décor of the rooms and beds are very much color coordinated, surrounding the passionate lovers with tones of yellow and red depending on the scene.

Rarely does Noé’s 3D photography ever feel gimmicky, though he does make sure to have a moment when Murphy ejaculates right at the camera in a shot very similar to one from a ‘70s 3D porno Lollipop Girls in Hard Candy. For the most part, Noé keeps his camera rather still and uses the 3D more as a function of depth.

Each of the young actors avail themselves well considering the shooting of Love’s multiple sex scenes must’ve been incredibly uncomfortable to perform. Karl Glusman captures all of Murphy’s emotions – the lust, the jealousy, the sadness, and the rage. And as the lost object of Murphy’s desires, Aomi Muyock gives a spirited performance, one that’s sexy in moments and a ball of self-destructive rage the next. As Omi, Klara Kristin plays a more prominent role towards the start of the film, and fades from the picture as Murphy’s thoughts go deeper and deeper into his past with Electra.

Gaspar Noé continues to build his reputation as an uncompromising auteur within cinema. Love is a smart, honest look at relationships, but will likely only be discussed because of its explicit sexuality. After all, the film opens with a single shot handjob. There’s so much more to Love than just sex, but Noé understands that we constantly place thoughts of sex alongside the feelings of love, and his film reflects that. Love is a striking work of cinema, though I’d never suggest that you should watch it with your parents, or your grandparents, or your kids, or relationship partners past and present.

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