Hey, those actors aren’t just pretending to have the sex, they’re really having the sex on camera!
Shocking how mundane and tedious graphic sex can be in Gasper Noe’s “Love,” an artfully shot and occasionally provocative but ultimately underwhelming and self-indulgent film about pretty people who are all about instant gratification and then a bit stunned when there are actual consequences to deal with.
No doubt their lives are more interesting to them than they were to me.
If you don’t know what you’re in for, the opening scene of “Love” might have you dropping your popcorn and wondering if you’ve wandered into the Last Porn House in America.
Murphy (Karl Glusman) and his girlfriend Electra (Aomi Muyock) are engaging in an intimate act, and let’s just say Murphy’s assets are front and center, with no shadowy trickery or prosthetics or stunt double quick-cuts involved.
From that encounter we jump back and forth on the timeline of a tangled sexual web involving Murphy, Electra and their new neighbor Omi (Klara Kristin), a fetching blonde who joins the couple for a bite to eat and then almost immediately tumbles into bed with them for a threesome that seems choreographed by Cirque de Soleil. (Not that Murphy limits his dalliances just to the lover and the mistress. He’s quite the player.)
Murphy, we learn, is an American in Paris. He talks about wanting to become a filmmaker. His favorite movie is “2001: A Space Odyssey,” and he can’t BELIEVE Electra has never seen it. Murphy says wants to make movies from blood and sweat and other bodily fluids, and just listening to him, you kinda hope he never makes a feature film because it sounds like he’s on the road to making pretentious tripe. More than once during this two-hour, 14-minute excursion, I was thinking: Please stop talking, Murphy.
Noe and cinematographer Benoit Debie shoot the sex scenes in lush colors, lingering over the gorgeous bodies of the three main characters. Even a simple scene with two characters talking in a diner is framed beautifully, with lush colors popping out from the screen. The camera is often static, giving us ample time to marvel at the background detail and the creative lighting.
The problem is, the sex scenes go on for — well, for as long as sex sometimes goes on, and when people are writhing about and the music is amped up and that’s about it, we’re not really going anywhere with the story, are we?
Not that there’s a shortage of story. “Love” delves into soap opera material. There’s a pregnancy, much drug abuse, a mystery surrounding someone who goes missing. If only we knew more about these characters other than a few background details and what they look like when they’re making love.
The symbolism here is not subtle, extending even to the names of the characters. Murphy is a screw-up who embodies Murphy’s Law. Electra has family issues, just like her counterpart from Greek mythology. At one point a certain body part of the director himself makes a cameo that’s right in your face (especially if you’re watching “Love” in 3D).
When Murphy shouts in the night, “I’m the one who’s hurting right now!” I nodded.
You and me both buddy.
Alchemy presents a film written and directed by Gaspar Noe. Running time: 134 minutes. No MPAA rating. Opens Friday at the Music Box Theatre.