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Cannes: Is Hardcore Sex All There Is to Gaspar Noé’s Porny 3D Melodrama ‘Love’?

Cannes: Is Hardcore Sex All There Is to Gaspar Noé's Porny 3D Melodrama 'Love'?

There’s a reason why Alchemy picked up Gaspar Noé’s sex opus “Love” ahead of its Cannes premiere. The film’s explicit love scenes — and in 3D — have been the talk of the Croisette since the festival began. It finally premiered last night. The lines were long, the anticipation heightened by bad boy Noé’s brain-bending “Enter the Void” and, of course, that low-angle tunnel rape suffered by Monica Bellucci in “Irreversible.”

In a sexy year for cinema, could this taboo-busting Frenchman knock everyone’s 3D glasses off? Noé sported his last night. Thierry Frémaux welcomed him at the midnight screening, where lines wended around the block, and hundreds — even some press — were turned away.

Despite all the film’s 3D sucking and fucking and ejaculating, the consensus is that “Love” is the provocateur’s most tame work to date, emotionally undercooked and even pompous given the fact that the on-the-nose protagonist, Murphy (Karl Klusman) is a filmmaker who wants to rewrite the rules of screen sex. Arranged out-of-order, like “Irreversible,” “Love” turns on an ill-fated ménage à trois involving Murphy, his girlfriend Omi (Klara Kristin) and his ex Electra (Aomi Muyock).

READ MORE: Gaspar Noé’s List of 10 Favorite Films Makes Perfect, Terrifying Sense

A few critics have been kinder to the film which, given its un-simulated sexual acts including a “a larger-than-life penis blowing its load straight at the lens” (Indiewire), looks headed for an NC-17 rating if the MPAA bothers to go anywhere near it. So far, it’s at least being praised for its unadorned depiction of naked bodies, male and female.

Indiewire:

Both eager to please and relentlessly underwhelming, “Love” doesn’t even manage to do much with the 3D gimmick that boosted its profile long before its completion. Noé exploits the device just once with the inevitable money (cum) shot of a larger-than-life penis blowing its load straight at the lens, but otherwise, his static images of writhing bodies look resoundingly flat.

The Hollywood Reporter:

If you cut out all the sex scenes in Gaspar Noe’s “Love,” what’s left is a wistful, some might say sappy story about heartbreak, made with impressive cinematic elan but somewhat shallow emotional depth, for all its tragic posturing. Like Noe’s previous effort, “Irreversible,” it tells its story out of chronological order, but if a hypothetical editor were to shuffle the scenes around, you could easily get a straight-up boy-meets-girl, boy-loses-girl, boy-pairs-up-with-a-second-girl-he-doesn’t much-love-and-feels-sad-about-losing-the-first-girl narrative arc.

Hitfix:

After the sex is over, Noé often lets the camera lazily gaze upon its subjects in the afterglow. His willingness to display the male form completely nude so intimately may seem minor compared to the sexual acts we’ve see Murphy’s private parts engage in, but if “Love” cracks open the door for more sexual expression on screen in any way it will likely be in this context. And, yes, that’s a positive.

The Playlist:

It may be hardcore XXX but this is Noe at his most softhearted following the brutality of “Irreversible” and his most straightforward, following the mindfuckery of “Enter the Void” so it may even leave his fans feeling underwhelmed. Still it would be disingenuous to suggest I wasn’t diverted and occasionally dazzled by its 3D visuals, often entranced in that visceral, pure cinema kind of way, which is itself remarkable for happening during a Gaspar Noe film apparently designed to “give guys a hard-on and make girls cry.” I didn’t cry and as far as I could make out, not a lot of the other thing happened either, but a softer Noe (not a hard-on pun I promise) does not necessarily have to be a bad thing.

The Guardian:

As ever with sexually explicit films, some airy sophisticates here at Cannes are going to claim that they found Love “boring”. I guarantee it. And I can only say that like Pinocchio, their noses are growing — and leave it at that. Love is crass, and ridiculous and often uproarious. The three actors involved are not joining the RSC or giving their interpretation of Aristophanes or Miller any time soon. But “Love” is a raunchy vaudeville with a surreal streak of despair. That’s entertainment.

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