Friday, 4 December 2015


Gaspar Noe's grand, hyped-up appropriation of romance movies, those classic and chaste, and those plainly pornographic, is neither one nor the other. It's barely even its own beast, too indebted to the ideas of other filmmakers and other films. But it is a most worthwhile experience, and a worthy statement to make, and as willing as you may be to write off Love for its multitudinous flaws, there's just too much good work on show here to fully do so. That scene with the transgender prostitute? Let's write that one off, actually; otherwise, every misstep that Noe makes - the clunky improvised dialogue, the gauche self-absorption, the horrendous acting - can be at least excused, at most vindicated by some aspect of his overarching conceit or another. This is culture at large, filtered through the tiny prism of one man's purview - a purview that is tinged with insanity, just enough to render it thrillingly sensual, and emotionally incisive in all the right ways. The banality of the cast's line deliveries tips its hat to porn, and functions as porn does in insinuating something subdued yet primed for eruption, but it also directs the viewer's thoughts toward broader notions of love, attachment and desire. Love's characters are mere conduits for a study in the intensity of true, physical, emotional love, and the exquisite styling provides excellent anti-intellectualist accentuation. That's what you leave with, but it's not what you came for... Love is too inherently stuck between its duelling drives as a narrative art film and as straight-up hardcore porn to make the very most of its sex scenes (though Noe compensates with two separate stereoscopic money shots), but it does demonstrate a most valuable appreciation for the innate eroticism of the human body in intercourse. It's on technicalities that Love most closely resembles pure pornography, then, and in the opposite that it most completely succeeds as its own experience.