It was almost completely by accident that I found out Gaspar Noé’s Love was going to be presented at this year’s Festival du Nouveau Cinéma. Six years after his last opus, Enter the Void, Noé personally introduced Love to Montreal audiences during two sold-out screenings in October. At his request, this English-language film was curiously shown without French subtitles. Nevertheless, words weren’t that necessary to immerse oneself in the film’s atmosphere.
With every new Noé release, most journalists only seem to be interested in the amount of sex featured in the film, in the same way that Tarantino is chastised for the violence he depicts. The press chooses to overlook the fact that as William S. Burroughs said in The Wild Boys: “The new look in blue movies should stress story and character.”
But is it really a blue movie?
“Until now I’ve done movies for mature audiences and I wanted to do one for a younger audience about the feelings of love how good and bad they can be,” Noé said ahead of the Montreal premiere.
Love is the story of Murphy (Karl Glusman), a 25-year-old American living in Paris, who receives a voice message on New Year’s Day morning from his former girlfriend’s mother. She hasn’t heard from her daughter in months and is deeply worried. He then begins to reflect and mourn the two-year relationship he shared with Electra (Aomi Muyock). They lived an intense passionate affair which she ended when Murphy confessed to have impregnated their neighbour Omi (Klara Kristin).
The film follows a nonlinear narrative. As Noé explained, “It revolves around someone who remembers his time with a girl he lost. Since we are working with memories, it’s more natural. When you think about your past, it never evolves in chronological order.” The dialogue was vastly improvised as the cast consisted of mostly non-actors.
Apart one scene, the film’s 3D effects hardly enhance the plot. The selection of music, however, is incredibly thoughtful and creative. “The labels saw it was an independent movie so I got all this music that I was listening to in my everyday life for a reasonable price. There are a lot of classics.” The use of Funkadelic’s “Maggot Brain” is one of the most moving juxtapositions ever captured on film. “There’s John Frusciante, there’s Pink Floyd, Brian Eno, John Carpenter. The main theme of Assault on Precinct 13 is great in the movie,” Noé added.
A true piece of art has to move, shake and change the spirit of people. Love is real. You will identify with both female and male characters at various points. Despite the film’s dark, introspective tones of sorrow and regret, there’s still plenty of humour to be found. The last time I saw a Gaspar Noé film I wasn’t sure if I liked it or not, but thinking this way would be missing the point. He is a filmmaker who invites you to be part of a journey. It is now up to you if you dare to embark… or not. ■
Love opens at Cinéma du Parc (3575 Parc) on Friday Nov. 27. Watch the trailer here: