Love 3D Gaspar Noé
Published Nov 13, 2015Gaspar Noé's Love 3D is a tease, but not in the way one might expect. After the formal audacity of Irreversible and Enter The Void, following up those films with a 3D porno promises a certain kind of lurid sleaze reserved for only the bravest of fans. Instead, Love 3D is full of mostly vanilla sex, dreary interiors and phoney introspection, meant to evoke the notion that the French enfant terrible of 2000's shock cinema is entering a more serious phase of his career.
Noé comically employs what he believes to be the signifiers of the generic "mature art film," showcasing Paris at its rainiest from inside barely decorated apartments and blaring an incessant guitar soundtrack, as if to mask his more vulgar tendencies. The film strikes an awkward but charming balance between the filmmaker's typical brand of in-your-face sincerity and a more reserved narrative structure, abandoning the thrilling spiritual nonsense of Enter The Void for something more human and smaller in scale. If Noé doesn't succeed in his goal of exposing the void that separates physical pleasure and emotional love, he gets points for trying, constructing a film of phoney surfaces and calling attention to them in a dazzling way, even though those surfaces never amount to much more than self-parody, featuring ridiculous call-backs to his previous films.
Love 3D traces the rise and fall of one relationship in flashback, while reflecting on another relationship in the present. Noé tracks this narrative through one long afternoon of contemplation by his protagonist, Murphy (Karl Glusman), an American film student in Paris. Compared to the sprawling scope of Noé's previous film, Love 3D feels like a welcome cool-down. His use of 3D photography careens from the crass to the cozy, as his ever-gazing camera drifts from room to room, interrogating characters for uncomfortable lengths as they get it on. Noé's command of space and his characters' relationship to that space is brilliant, even if his script leaves many things to be desired — including any real sense of intimacy.
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 since its Cannes premiere back in May, Noé has to receive some commendation for committing to the bit and making a truly exhausting, intentionally monotonous film. It's especially successful when compared to the faux-provocative cartoon porno that was Lars von Trier's Nymphomaniac. Noé's film succeeds where Trier's didn't last year; while that film revelled in the pleasures of cinema as a means of sexual fantasy, Love 3D plainly exposes the emptiness of those cinematic experiences.
It's juvenile, 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 its own brand of dumb fun.