Published Sep 24, 2015Please note that only capsule reviews are authorized for this title until its theatrical release.
After the formal audacity of Irréversible and Enter The Void, Gaspar Noé's 3D porno promises a certain kind of lurid sleaze reserved for only the bravest of fans. Instead, Love is full of mostly vanilla sex, dreary interiors and a lot of phoney introspection, suggesting that the French enfant terrible of 2000s shock cinema is entering a more serious phase. The film strikes an awkward but charming balance between Noé's typical brand of in-your-face sincerity and a more reserved narrative structure. If he doesn't succeed in his goal of exposing the void (pardon the pun) that separates physical pleasure and emotional love, he sure gets points for trying, constructing a film of phoney surfaces and calling attention to them in a dazzling way.
At a numbing two-and-a-quarter hours, the film stretches well beyond its comfort zone, avoiding every opportunity for real introspection to show us another lengthy scene of fucking between its two vacuous, coked-out leads. While the film has certainly seen its share of flack for this excess, Noé has to receive some commendation for committing and making a truly exhausting, intentionally monotonous film set at one volume, compared to the faux-provocative cartoon porno that was Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac. While that film revelled in the pleasures of cinema as a means of sexual fantasy, Love plainly exposes the emptiness of those cinematic experiences. It's juvenile and it's nihilistic, and while it's not always clear that Noé recognizes it, the film's sly destabilizing of hierarchies within his own cinema is mostly dumb fun.