I had the chance to meet Gaspard Noé years ago in Paris while I was working at FNAC, THE european entertainment retailer. My boss at the time, the head of the film and DVD department, arranged a Masterclass with him in conjunction with the release of Noé’s masterpiece Enter the Void.
A couple of days prior to the Masterclass I went to the press screening. After almost three hours of a psychedelic drama set in Tokyo, the lights went on, but no journalist could get up from their seat. A mix between astonishment and fascination had overcome every attendee of the screening. It was a similar feeling of horror and fascination that I experienced while watching Noe’s (in)famous Irreversible. Both movies are, in my humble opinion, two incredible cinematic masterpieces.
After reading a recent interview with the Argentinian–French director that appeared in the New York Times about his influences –ranging from Buñuel to Kubrick’s A Space Odyssey– I remembered the last film he released, Love.
While aesthetically Love is unquestionably a Noé film, it is completely different, and in the worst ways possible, to his previous highly regarded films, Enter the Void and Irreversible. The film failed to meet the expectations and the level of hype generated by the media prior to its release. During the first few months of 2016 Gaspard Noé was introduced by the media as a new Von Trier, l’enfant terrible de Cannes, however coverage of the film quickly turned to an in-depth discussion on the boundaries of explicitness in cinema and where the moral line should be drawn. Love is paradoxically boring and falls into what is the most dangerous trap for an independent artist: creating scandal and controversy for its own sake. Even if the photography, the art direction and the editing are as delicate and beautiful as we have come to expect from Noé, the love-story clichés cannibalize the film. It is the story of an “Amour Fou à l’André Breton”: an American cinema student living in Paris falls in love with a beautiful art student, Elektra, at the Parisian park of Les Buttes Chaumont. For almost two years, the couple lives an intense love story until the young man messes everything up when he gets a woman, whom he does not love, pregnant. The passionate love story is told from the perspective of a tedious present with Satie’s Gymnopédies as a backdrop. Paris? Satie? Amour fou? More cliché… impossible.
There is no message of rebellion trying to bring down morality and conservatism in cinema; explicitness in Love is just an empty, though effective, way to promote a bad film… (Oh, and the 3D –Love was conceived to be screened in 3D- doesn’t bring any added value to spectators…).