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October 27, 2015

Gaspar Noé's 'Love' to Make Stateside Debut on Oct. 30

CANNES, France—The last time we wrote about Gaspar Noé's controversial 3D movie Love was back in June, just after it caused a bit of furor at the Cannes Film Festival, where some critics, apparently offended by the film's hardcore sexual content, walked out, while others clamored to get into the standing-room-only screening, and other critics hailed Noé as a "taboo-busting filmmaker" ready to "knock everyone's 3D glasses off once again." The story is fairly simple, though told in somewhat reverse chronological order. American film student Murphy (Karl Glusman) lives with his French girlfriend Omi (Klara Kristin) with whom he has a son, but pines for his ex-lover Electra (Aomi Muyock), who used to engage in threesomes with both Murphy and Omi until Murphy cheated on her and got Omi pregnant—and when he gets a call from Electra's mom that Electra is missing ... that's when the plot takes off. Sadly, many mainstream critics seem unable to objectively analyze a mainstream film that includes such acts as mutual masturbation, an "acrobatic threesome," lots of oral (on both men and women) and a virtual ejaculation right at their faces, courtesy of the 3D medium. "If you cut out all the sex scenes in Gaspar Noé'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 despite all its tragic posturing," wrote The Hollywood Reporter, adding later, "Indeed, by Noe's standards, especially compared to his last Enter the Void, Love is pretty innocuous, hardly shocking at all. This may seem like a surprising thing to say about a movie that features a tight close-up of a penis ejaculating into 3-D space at its audience." "The accumulation of bedroom scenes and whispered passions between the lovers do generate some semblance of believable chemistry, and Electra's drug-addled sensibilities reasonably exacerbate the couple's mounting tension—which sets up a finale that earns its notes of despair," wrote Eric Kohn for Indiewire. "For the most part, however, Love fails to generate any kind of engagement over Murphy's conundrum... 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." "[Noé's] willingness to display the male form completely nude so intimately may seem minor compared to the sexual acts we’ve seen 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," wrote HitFix.com's Gregory Ellwood. "It goes without saying that there are few well-known actors who would be willing to participate in a project such as this, even if it meant working with a renowned filmmaker such as Noé. The three main leads, all unknowns, may look back upon this project a decade from now and marvel at how brave they were to take it on. Noé is lucky they are as good as they are." We can hardly wait to see how American critics handle the film once it opens here on October 30 in "selected theaters." (We'll let you know when we find out which ones are gutsy enough to show it—and in 3D, no less.) However, Love is having a few problems even in its native France, whose arts ministry helped fund the film thanks to its use of 3D, which the government wants to support, apparently seeing the medium as the wave of the future for cinema. Just three weeks after the film got those rave reviews at Cannes and opened in French theaters, where teens as young as 16 were allowed to attend the showings, an administrative court in Paris raised the admission age to 18—a decision Noé called "nonsense." Noé accused attorney Patrice André (aka André Bonnet) as the man behind the censorship attempt, while André accused Noé of being an "unscrupulous director" who "wanted to reintroduce pornography into mainstream cinemas." And after all, Noé did famously say that, "I would let 12-year-olds see it." Quoth Love's producer Vincent Maraval: "In France, love is now forbidden for those under 18." Sadly, the same is true in the U.S., and though Love's American distributor, Alchemy, is not an MPAA signatory and can therefore try to market the hardcore version of the film to theaters, it's unclear how many will be willing to risk the ire of censorship groups like Morality in Media National Center on Sexual Exploitation. After all, today is the start of "White Ribbon Against Pornography" week... But for Noé, the sex is vitally important. "People are doing it in life," he said. "If you portray a rape or a murder scene, you’re portraying something that most people haven’t experienced and don’t want to experience. But when you make a portrait of a complete sexual life between a boy and a girl, I think most people have been through it, so they’re not shocked by the images; they’re just shocked that it’s finally happening in a normal, regular theater." Pictured, l-r: Aomi Muyock, Gaspar Noé, Klara Kristin, Karl Glusman.

 
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