Along with Lars von Trier, he is THE scandal director of contemporary arthouse cinema: Gaspar Noé. Among other things, the Argentinean confronted his audience with a minute-long rape scene in a single mercilessly enduring shot (in “Irreversible”) and showed them a cumshot from the vagina’s point of view in “Enter the Void”. When such an artist announces that he’s making a film that’s explicitly about the sexual side of love, and in 3D to boot, certain expectations are obvious. And after a good hour of his sex drama “Love” it comes, in the truest sense of the word: a cumshot directly into the camera, which, however, is by no means a cinematic highlight. For this time Noé loses himself between such hollow provocations and narrative banalities, his strengths can only be guessed at in places, while his weaknesses become all the more apparent. Thus “Love”, made on a low budget after the commercial flop of “Enter the Void”, is altogether unsuccessful and only to some extent an interesting film.

Murphy (Karl Glusman) and Electra (Aomi Muyock) have a wild relationship, dominated by drugs and sex, and fluctuate between exuberant feelings of happiness and jealousy that degenerates into hatred. One day they have a threesome with neighbor Omi (Klara Kristin), whom Murphy continues to see even in Electra’s absence, putting increasing strain on the couple’s relationship. When Murphy finally gets Omi pregnant, Electra leaves him. He mourns his great love….

Similar to “Irreversible,” Gaspar Noé also tells this story backwards, but with the difference that he repeatedly interrupts the reverse chronology with cuts to the “present,” in which Murphy struggles with his life as Omi’s boyfriend and a young family man after the end of his relationship with Electra. Over time, his love for Electra has become more and more difficult, the initially romantic, intimate relationship has developed into an eternal struggle that even excessive sex could not end in the long run. The thoroughly exciting theme of a love characterized by extremes is largely wasted by Noé, however.

The inexperienced actors are obviously overwhelmed with the acting subtleties of a character study, which suggests that they were hired primarily because they were willing to go along with the sexually explicit shoot. In “Enter the Void,” Noé was still able to convincingly conceal similar problems with sprawling tracking shots, custom-made sets and the like. But here, the very frank but mostly surprisingly conventional sex scenes are joined by banal sayings like “Love is hard work” or “Life is difficult” that don’t carry any emotional weight. Despite repeatedly exquisite 3D images by his regular cinematographer Benoît Debie (“Spring Breakers,” “Every Thing Will Be Fine”), Noé cannot find a convincing form for his love roller coaster ride and falls far short of the appealing and exciting qualities of his previous work.

Conclusion: In his fourth feature film “Love,” Argentine scandal director Gaspar Noé devotes himself to a destructive love – and fails.

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