LOVE, cinematic provocateur Gaspar Noé's fourth feature, will likely stir up a similar conversation that recently led to Playboy's decision to stop printing nude pictures in their magazine. Why would anyone pay to watch two hours of an expressively lit and beautiful couple doing naughty things when online porn is free of charge?
You can ask Noé just that when he visits Portland to attend the November 4 screening of Love. He might answer in the same way his onscreen stand-in Murphy (Karl Glusman) does within the film. An American film student living in Paris, the young man explains that he wants to show "sentimental sexuality"—raw fucking as passionate as a first kiss—in the cinema.
Noé succeeds in that, at least, right out of the gate, with Murphy and his girlfriend Electra (Aomi Muyock) getting each other off for the film's first five minutes. But this quickly moves from being somewhat daring (the depictions of female pleasure throughout Love are a sadly rare thing in modern movie sex) to just plain gratuitous. The majority of Love's 135-minutes is taken up with XXX action, including a liaison with a transgender partner and a visit to a sex club. Outside of a couple of in-your-face moments that take advantage of the film being shot in 3D, it all starts to blur together into a tangle of limbs and fluids.
There is a plot to Love, something to do with Murphy lamenting his tempestuous relationship with Electra, which ended after he impregnated their 17-year-old neighbor (not long after they have a threeway, of course). It's about as important to this film as the storyline for your typical skin flick. And just like watching a porno, Love's shoddy performances and overheated dialogue will have you practically begging for the boning to start, if only to shut up the actors.
Director Gaspar Noé will NOT be attendance at the November 4 screening. The star of the film, Karl Glusman, will be in attendance instead. Okay, ANOTHER update—Cinema 21 now tells us that both Noé and Glusman WILL probably be in attendance after all. So... we'll see, I guess? —Ed.