Gaspar Noé might have made a shockingly inoffensive 3D pornographic film
Director Gasper Noé's 3D pornographic film Love ("essentially about a ménage a trois, or two girls and a guy who try and navigate a triangular sexual relationship") has inspired varied, mostly negative reviews. Screened on Wednesday night at Cannes, the critics have been down on the film for being too long, too heteronormative, too boring, too terribly acted, too self-indulgent (on behalf of the director), and too emotionless despite its passionate subject matter. But the "nightmare penis-slit shot" sounds... creative.
Robbie Collin of The Telegraph delivered this burn:
Gaspar Noé may be the only director in history who could make a two-and-a-quarter-hours-long pornographic film in 3D and then have it legitimately described as his least offensive picture to date.
Other critics had this to say:
The 3D means at one stage we basically get a squelching of sperm swooshing out of the screen straight at the audience, as well as what can only be described as a nightmare penis-slit shot, rhythmically chugging in and out at us through a hideous tunnel of purple flesh big enough for Eurostar. And it often looks like the audience is going to need to duck when the male lead and his hefty phallus turns around, like Eric Sykes and his ladder… There is nothing experimental or wayward or playful in the way the sex in this film is shot: the point is just to deliver the actual business of penetration: over and over again, usually in subdued woozy light.
If the metrics by which you want to measure Love are its brute sexiness and technical panache, then the film is indeed rather extraordinary. Thanks to Noe's regular collaborator Benoit Debie (who also shot such recent visually bravura films as Spring Breakers and Lost River), Love contains some of the prettiest shagging scenes in cinematic history. That long ménage a trois scene, for instance, is an orgy of sculpted light that flatters every perfect pore of the actors' extraordinarily comely bodies, captured from high overhead angles that are held for long takes and keep most of the bodies in frame, like dance sequences in classic musicals.
I can’t remember any other director ever simultaneously imagining himself as the empty-headed, dickish but pretty leading man (an aspiring filmmaker who namechecks 2001 as is Noé’s wont); the leading lady’s older, married ex-boyfriend (who is called Noé); and a fetus (the baby is going to be called Gaspar even before he is born)... Additionally, it is heteronormative to its core, casually homophobic in language at times, and un-casually transphobic in its chickenshit treatment of its one transgender sex scene… And yet Noe, aided by DP Benoît Debie, does know a thing or two about arranging a scene for maximum beauty, and here seems to have been inspired to shoot the too-many acts of vigorous boning with a surprisingly lyrical wash over the graphic details of penises, pubic hair, boobs and bums (no vaginas, though, except once from the inside).