Love 3D

Year: 2015
Production Co: Les Cinémas de la Zone
Director: Gaspar Noe
Writer: Gaspar Noe
Cast: Karl Glusman, Aomi Muyock, Klara Kristin

Like all of Gaspar Noe's work, one of the questions you're always left with after watching Love is why he uses certain devices as storytelling tools. Why, for example, shoot and present it in 3D as if it's some superhero blockbuster full of eye popping CGI? The only reason seems to be a single money shot – literally – of the naked lower half of hero Murphy (Karl Glusman) with a woman's hand masturbating his penis to orgasm, semen literally hitting the audience when it splatters against the lens of the camera.

Another question is why Noe includes scenes of such graphic sexuality at all. You can be glib and just tell yourself it's because he's a French director and (especially given the existence of Irreversible) that it's just his style to shock, but I've read some reviews that talk about the sex scenes being thematic to what's going on in the story at the time. A budding filmmaker, Murphy talks about making a movie dealing with sentimental sexuality, and maybe that's just what Noe is doing by showing sex in all different emotional moods when the lovers are feeling lazy, funny, angry, etc.

We meet Murphy walking slowly around the home he shares with his French wife Omi (Klara Kristin) and infant son. As he wakes up, disinterestedly dresses, brushes his teeth, etc, Murphy's internal monologue is spoken out loud for us in his voice. He hates being married to Omi, has long since fallen out of love with her and can't seem to stand her voice or presence.

Instead, he's thinking about his old girlfriend Electra, a fiery but apparently unstable Parisian woman Murphy learns has gone missing when Electra's mother calls him asking if he's seen her.

Just like in Into The Void we see the story of Electra, Murphy and Omi's history unravel haphazardly, time periods and events seemingly shuffled up and edited into the film at random.

After their early discussion about sexual fantasy, Electra and Murphy invite Omi – who's their neighbour across the way – for a threesome, and before long Murphy's sleeping with her without Electra but not considering it cheating, and as jealousy and anger bubble up between the three of them, we understand how Murphy came to be where he is.

Like all Noe's films Love 3D takes its time unravelling. It's not just long sex scenes we're treated to using static or slowly tracking cameras for minutes at a time (all set against one of the best film soundtracks in years), but snapshots of the characters' lives. At one point we sit behind Electra and Murphy having a shouting match in the back of a cab, saying the most hateful things they can muster up before they're upstairs going at it again.

Like many of his European contemporaries, Noe is concerned mainly with sex. Taken as a straight narrative about a crumbling relationship, Love 3D isn't by any means new, it just tells it using far more explicit content. Deciding where he lies between serious filmmaker with something to say and fetishist who just loves nudity and wants to get a reaction out of you is for you to decide, but you can't deny the images on screen are masterfully composed and often very beautiful.

Interestingly, the crisis that sets the whole story in motion – Electra having disappeared – is never solved. The story is simply about Murphy's recollections of his, Electra's and Omi's desires and lusts that led them to where they are. Maybe that's the point of the 3D – a statement about overly commercial, crowd-pleasing Hollywood endings that wrap everything up neatly.

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