Categorizing Love as mere pornography is an oversimplified and incorrect classification. There is a high-concept, artistic element to it, but in a very contemporary sense, like most of Noé’s films. This film’s biggest problem is that even though it attempts to create many metaphors, most of them come off as requiring deep, personal explanations from Noé. That just begs the question that if you have to explain a metaphor, does it work? Mostly, it doesn’t. It ends up coming off as intruding on a private conversation with little context as an onlooker. We are never able to penetrate the deeper layer that we know exists because that would require an intimate knowledge of the writer’s experience, views, and inner-workings. Instead, we’re left scratching outside a window desperately trying to contextual everything we see inside.
Not every message gets muddled in the mix. There are several ideas that ring loudly throughout the film. Through various sexual experiments, we learn that Noé views different forms of exploration as a natural and healthy course of a relationship. Through the character’s toxic relationships, we realize that no matter how often they have sex, Noé still considers it “making love” rather than just “fucking”. Glusman’s character represents how Noé views the American alpha male and potentially American sexual repression as a whole.
In his character’s room, you can see his proud display of film posters ranging from the racially repugnant The Birth of a Nation to the sexually abusive Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom. Each is meant to represent a part of the main character’s psyche and how he is a product of his restrictive, conservative American upbringing. Electra (Aomi Muyock), whose name shows reference’s to Freud’s Electra complex in the film, embodies the European sense of sexual freedom and exploration. Noé wears his disdain for American possessiveness of another person when in a relationship on his sleeve. Love can, and should, exist without jealousy or control, and that’s one of Noé’s messages I find easy to get behind.
It’s impossible to overlook the 3D aspect of this film, but that seems to be the point. The colors, textures and even an ejaculation or two attempts to compensate for the incomprehensible thematic depth with a layer of visual depth. The film teeters between avant-garde designs and gimmick, using the sexual appeal of the film to draw its audience in. The problem with that is the audience that is drawn by to the film purely based on the 3D sex is that all the attempts at symbolism will be lost on them, and only be the thing that passes the time between cum shots.
The performances themselves range from uneven to completely adequate, with Karl Glusman taking the spotlight in every scene. Hiring mostly inexperienced or first-time actors (Glusman aside), was a major risk that didn’t pay off for the non-sexual performances, but worked extremely well during the many, many, many sex scenes. These scenes hit their mark and had the intended effect of coming off as natural and unstaged. Every stroke seemed like a stroke of the paint brush on a nude canvas. The opening shot itself mimics forms and positions found in Renaissance era paintings. The arousing aesthetic and very liberal use of colors elevates Noé’s Love from high-class porn to art.
RATING: ★★★★★ (5/10 stars)