Love Is About More Than Sex. Same's True Of Love, The Film.

Love.
Director and Writer: Gaspar Noé.
Cast: Karl Glusman, Aomi Muyock, and Klara Kristin.
Opens at: Dallas and Plano Angelika.

Something a little tragic that happens when movies like Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom and even garbage like The Human Centipede are marketed and hyped solely around shock value. The actual content of a film beyond its implied controversy falls to the wayside.

And, specifically, that's the issue confronting director Gaspar Noé with the release of his newest film, Love. And rightly: This film does open with a five-minute scene of its two protagonists fully nude and masturbating with one another.

That's pretty spicy stuff upon which to start a movie.

Maybe Noé just felt he needed to make a splash with that first scene. It's been six years since his last movie, Enter the Void, after all. And now he's armed with what might be one of the most personal and disturbingly autobiographical films ever with his tale of a man (Karl Glusman) reminiscing about his relationship with an ex (Aomi Muyock).

Prior to its release, all of the talk surrounding this film centered around its very sexually explicit trailers and posters — Google them at home, not at work — which quickly turned this one into “that movie with all of the sex.”

Yes, there is sex and lots of it. Quickies, blowjobs, cunnilingus, and orgies are among the many variations captured here.

But for all of the graphic sex, the movie is surprisingly emotional. At the beginning of the movie, Murphy is dreading his life via internal monologue. He's got a kid with his girlfriend, and he's not loving it. A phone call triggers thoughts of his former flame, Electra, which audiences are then shown in mostly reverse-order flashblacks that go right up until the first time that they met.

It's during these scenes that the movie packs its most emotional punch. You see that Murphy and Electra had a true connection. It was a dysfunctional one — they each cheated on the other — but they had real vibes together and you see the good times and the fucked up times alike.

They're both flawed: Murphy is a hypocritically possessive bro who hates his current lovelife and resents his child; Electra's got addict issues and is deceptive. Still, you grow get invested in these people's relationship. You see some very relateable moments of bliss and pain and sadness and all of these things that make relationships rad and shitty at the same time.

Noé's direction and shot composition is so assured, too. There's various steadycam long takes, plus some surreal and disorienting editing that makes the various party and sex scenes feel like you're actually experiencing a hazy evening with a lover. The whole movie is trippy as hell, really.

If there's something that really kills this otherwise moving movie, it's its length. It's about 20 minutes longer than it needs to be, and the second half of the film is fairly repetitive.

Also not great? That the movie just sort of ends. Depending on how much you buy into the movie, this is either a clumsy choice or an adequate attempt at showing how some things just end without a definitive conclusion.

Love can be ugly, and so is Love . It's a familiar tale — the oldest tale — but one that's at least told uniquely this time through. Sexually explicit content or no, watching this film is a singular experience.

Grade: B

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