Having seen, and enjoyed Gaspar Noe’s previous three feature films I was looking forward to his latest. For the uninitiated Noe is a French filmmaker, born in Argentina who directs, edits, produces and writes the screen play’s for his own feature films. I suppose the best way to describe his work is say that he likes to make an impact on his audience by risk taking and controversial seem the best way to sum up his work. His debut film I Stand Along (1998) is a stark and real study of one mans inbuilt hatred towards the whole world. His inner turmoil was brought on following a prison sentence for stabbing a man in the face whom he suspected of assaulting his beloved daughter. This film concluded with a 30 second gap to allow the squeamish to leave the cinema before the climax. His second and best-known movie is Irreversible (2002). It consists of thirteen scenes presented in reverse chronological order. The most controversial part of this movie is the nine minutes single shot rape scene in a pedestrian underpass. Enter the Void (2009) is a tremendous piece of avant-garde filmmaking that succeeded in being both extremely provocative and completely absorbing. Set in a neon-lit Tokyo Noe described it as a psychedelic melodrama.
Premiering in the Midnight Screening section of the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Gaspar Noe has again pushed the boundary of ‘risk taking cinema’ with a lament to lost love. In a pre-release interview the director admitted that Love (2015) is meant to have an explicitly sexual feel stating that ‘he hoped the guys watching the movie will have erections and the female’s will get wet’ and he also pointed out that the sex scenes, and there are quite a few, were not choreographed.
This English language movie was filmed in Paris and revolves around an American cinema school student Murphy (Karl Glusman) and his former girlfriend the unstable Electra (Aomi Muyock). The pair had been passionately dating for two years when Murphy has sex with his 16-year-old neighbour Omi (Klara Kristin) who becomes pregnant – although both Murphy and Electra have had some erotically shot ‘three way’ sex with her previously! But it’s Omi’s pregnancy that ends the intense relationship between Murphy and Electra. Consequently the main part of the narrative involves Murphy recalling his recent past with Electra that involved drug taking and copious amount of sex.
Along with Christophe Honore, Francois Ozon, Lars von Trier and Catherine Breillat, Noe pushes the boundary between mainstream cinema and pornography and to his credit he succeeds. Although its difficult to empathise with his three main characters and could be conceived a little long, its Benoit Debie’s cinematography and the amazing lighting with its use of colour filters that leaves much to admire.