Sunday, November 8, 2015

Love (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway


Say what you will about Argentinian director Gaspar Noe, he is an Enfant terrible. Noe is strongly influenced by existentialism and his characters are often passive, misanthropic or brutish.

Noe never fails to provoke even when he is tepid and audiences often say no to him. In "Love," a meditation on addiction, the director stays within his usual bounds.

Murphy (Karl Glusman) is a film student in Paris. By chance at a party, he meets a quirky and goth aspiring painter, Electra (Aomi Muyock.)

Things go rather well for them. There are some startling full frontal and  explicit sex scenes in 3D, featuring the the two conjoining like octopuses surrounded by red velvet. At other times, the couple resembles fallen matadors engorged by bulls. These tableaux of graphic sex are shadowed by a wobbly and intense chiariscuro making each wild orgasmic contortion into a painting by a masturbatory Carravagio.

Electra and Murphy attend a party invited by a gallery owner (played by the director Noe in a cameo) Murphy gets very drunk and nasty, falling for a patron sexually in the bathroom. Murphy turns acidic and degrading to Electra. What was once Romeo and Juliet is now Caligula.

In the fashion of a collage, we see Murphy engaged in crab-like sex with Omi (Klara Kristin) a young lady whom Murphy does not care for. They have a toddler and another baby is expected.

Murphy feels trapped and miserable. Day after day, he gets phone calls from Electra's mother who says Electra is missing and presumed suicidal. Murphy is wracked with self loathing and can only think of his sensual bliss of the past. Murphy has frequent rages. Sex, an opiate, is the only thing that numbs him.

In content, there is not much here and the director Noe is perhaps teasing us here, employing 3D effects as a gimmick. Murphy is passive and selfish, a thoroughly unlikeable character.  This is the director's trademark as he is no doubt influenced by Camus, Kafka and the folly of happenstance. Gaspar Noe's previous films "Carne" and "Irreversible" are far superior, with richer allusions to the  themes of Dante's Inferno and Dostoevsky.

Yet though "Love" strobes across the screen with some repetitive and familiar shapes of bestial abjection, the film does point to the compelling theme of sex as a drug, stronger than any narcotic, making animals of us all.

To see a Noe film is to witness a hard bitten world with people driven mad, yet the hostility is often washed over with the hallucinogenic colors of a work by Hieronymus Bosch.  Limbs, members and extremities are foreshortened, cropped and erased, showing men and women boxed within a spiritual submarine. Invariably, his characters are either bitter, laconic or self absorbed.

But to what end? This question is all that remains.

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