Love is a movie by the french writer and director Gaspar Noe. The story revolves around Murphy, an american film student, as he looks back on his relationship with a woman named Electra after he receives a call from Electra’s mother who is trying to tack down her daughters. Murphy spends the rest of the day ignoring his wife, Omi, and his son as he reaches out to the people in his past and reflects on his time with Electra.
This trip down memory lane starts off sweetly enough but spins out into chaos much in the same way Murphy and Electra’s relationship does. When the credits role we are left to sort through the debris and come to our own conclusions about what transpired. What I have come away with, after much sifting, is that this is a story told from a strictly male perspective where we watch Murphy struggle to balance his obsession and desire for Electra with what really happened.
I like the premise of Love, a man reflecting on a past relationship with a woman and what he chooses to remember says more about him then it does the relationship. He claims to love Electa and yet most of the movie is told in flash backs which focuses on the sexual component of their relationship and the infidelity that lead to the downfall of the relationship. We seen very few non-sexual intimate moments with the couple and those that we do see are often revolve around grand proclamations of devotion and love without seeing the follow through.
Yet I believe Murphy when he says he loves Electra much like I believes him when we see him tell his girlfriend before Electra that he loves her. When all is said and done his view of Love is strictly passion. The passion of dramatic romantic love and the passion one finds in the dying embers of a relationship as you fight to stay in and get out. His love is controlling, insecure, selfish and destructive.
I would be fine with that. On it’s own it is an interesting story however…
There is so much sex in this movie. This is not a complaint. I think that the sex is handled very well and is a strong point in the movies favor. They never felt exploitative. There’s just so much of it that it muddies of the waters and I struggle to find the meaning/context for all of it. The movie opens with a five minute scene where Electra gets Murphy to ejaculate while he fingers her. We see a similar scene later in the movie. There is a threesome. There is a computer generated shot of a penis inside of a vagina. Oral sex scenes. A scene involving a transsexual woman.
To be clear this is all real sex. Not simulated sex. Which in a movie about a relationship built on sex as love adds another layer to what we are seeing and why it was done this way.
One of the most interesting things about the sex scenes are how they are shot. When the relationship between Electra and Murphy is at its best the sex scenes are shot mostly with a static camera as the scene unfolds. It’s all clear and crisp in a way that it looks like a scene from a classic painting. When the relationship is at its worst the sex scenes are aggressive with an active camera. They scenes are shorter and less intimate; we do not linger as much.
At the end of the day this is a movie I enjoyed. It is not an easy movie. It is a movie that explores regret and loss in a unique way and from the perspective of, essentially, an abuser. Murphy is not a sympathetic character but underneath all of his horribleness I think we can recognize that he is hurting and struggling.
This is a messy and complicated movie but for me it was worth it.