What happens when U.S. Netflix subscribers go crazy for an erotic romance that’s more or less the equivalent of softcore porn? Apparently they go looking for more. Gaspar Noé’s 2015 romance “Love” is soaring in popularity on the streaming platform in the wake of “365 Days” dominating the Netflix charts throughout June. As of June 24, “Love” ranks as the fifth most watched movie on Netflix and the seventh most watched program overall. “365 Days” remains the second most watched film on the platform, an impressive feat for a film that debuted June 7. Both films jumped onto the Netflix charts after Tik Tok users began sharing their reactions to the films’ graphic sex scenes.
“Love” follows the doomed romance between an American film student living in Paris (Karl Glusman) and his French girlfriend (Aomi Muyock). Noé world premiered the film at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival, where it became the event’s most controversial title because of the director’s un-simulated sex scenes. Noé presented “Love” in 3D, and at one point in the film a male character ejaculates directly at the camera. Other explicit moments include oral sex scenes filmed in real time without any edits.
The “Love” sex scenes were so controversial at the time that many cast members were forced to explain the difference between the film they made and pornography. As Glusman told Variety, “If you go online and look at porn and compare it to the movie we made, there’s a big difference. In pornography, there’s often no pubic hair. There are no breakups and fights. There’s very little emotional investment from the performers.”
“If you look at the definition of pornography, the chief purpose is sexual arousal,” Glusman added. “Unless people are masturbating in the movie theater, you can’t call our movie porn. I haven’t heard of that happening yet. But if it did, I’d be pretty flattered.”
While “Love” was a buzzy title at Cannes, the film did not earn much of a following during its theatrical release. “Love” ended its run with less than $1 million at the box office, and yet it’s now climbing up the Netflix most-watched charts as users seemingly look for more erotic content in the wake of the blockbuster streaming success of “365 Days.”
“365 Days” is based on an erotic novel by author Blanka Lipinska and stars Michele Morrone as Massimo, a member of a Sicilian mafia family who fails to protect his father from an assassination after being distracted by a beautiful woman. Massimo becomes so obsessed with the woman, a Polish sales agent named Laura, that he kidnaps and imprisons her. Massimo gives Laura 365 days to fall in love with him or else she can go back to her unhappy life in Poland.
The sex scenes in “365 Days” ignited so much curiosity on social media this month that word of mouth propelled the movie to the top of Netflix’s charts despite dismal reviews and a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie’s most shocking sex scene is a four-minute sex montage set aboard a yacht that includes graphic depictions of oral sex and various sexual positions. Many viewers have been left to debate whether or not the montage includes un-simulated sex scenes.
For both “Love” and “365 Days” it helps that Netflix counts a “view” as two minutes of streaming time. It’s unclear how many viewers are watching the entirety of these movies, but a view is still counted for any user just fast forwarding to watch two minutes worth of sex scenes. It may have taken five years, but “Love” is officially a top 10 chart breaker.