In 2015, the big screen of a hundred-year-old Lucerna cinema in Prague warns its viewers: “Put your glasses on.
Love will start in a few seconds”. Two minutes later, a young man in the back stars to express himself quietly: “This is just porn.” His lady disagrees: “Shut up! This is art.” No one replies: the hall is full and everyone is ready for a “real sex” show.
The erotic drama “Love” has caused no less public discussion than her predecessor, “Blue Is the Warmest Color”. Both movies are very similar: they travelled to Cannes, they show a love triangle inside out, and they do not hide a single detail from the audience.
Gaspar Noe, an Argentine born and a France-based film director, divides the public into haters and lovers over and over again: he shocked the art reviewers with “Irreversible” in 2002, released “Enter the Void” seven years later, and has just presented “Love” — all fresh and clear.
Love’s main characters, sweethearts Murphy and Electra, are trapped into a “Sex, drugs, rock-and-roll” scheme: they are young and free, and they want all their wild desires to come true. It starts with another woman, Omi, who comes in their perfect life and ruins it by agreeing to be the part of a couple’s sexual experiment. It ends with Omi too: two years later, a viewer sees Murphy with his and Omi’s son, thinking to himself:
“Is it a nightmare? I wish I didn’t exist right now”.
The movie shows all stages of destructive, desperate kind of love. From first-month happiness, when everything seemed just beautiful (the sweethearts are in Paris, after all) it shows their need of destructive adventures, which leads to an explosive mix of hypersexuality and a growing conflict between the main characters.
As Murphy is a filmmaker, he once shares a thought with his listener at the party: “My biggest dream is to make a movie that truly depicts sentimental sexuality. Why, why haven’t we seen this in cinema?” Even though he hasn’t made it, he truly showed it as his own example.
It is all based on sex, of course. This is what the audience wanted, and this is what it’s got. “Love” portrays sex through different phases of Murphy and Electra’s relationship – from gentleness and joy, when they are pictured sleeping peacefully next to each other, or discussing their favorite poetry in the park, to hatred and violence, when Murphy crashes an empty vodka bottle on Electra’s lover.
Just like “Blue is the warmest color”, “Love” is full of a hidden symbolism. While the first movie continuously uses blue, painting the main character’s hair in blue, placing people in the bright blue apartments and making them wear blue dresses, “Love” plays with day and night. When Murphy and Electra have nothing but love for each other, they are depicted in the daylight and the music throughout the scenes is relaxing. When the couple starts bringing up arguments, they meet mostly in the darkness, surrounded by red, disturbing lights, and followed by aggressive sounds of punk rock.
Murphy is a “Love’s” antagonist: he dug his own grave. He is Rodion Raskolnikov type of a guy: at first, he masochistically enjoys ruining his life with his heaviest addiction – sex. He can go to a party and ask a girl who stands in front of him: “What’s the best thing in life?” to which she replies: “Love!”, and enthusiastically adds: “Sex!” Half-way-drunk Murphy is excited as well: “Yes, and then you combine it into sex while you’re in love!” But once he finds out the fun is over because Omi is pregnant with his child, he falls in a stage of regret and a self-pity. He looks at the pictures of Electra, the only physical memory of her after she had left him, over and over again, and eventually starts hallucinating.
After Love is over, a 27 year old Brit Nickson B., who came to see the film, shares his disappointment: “In Hollywood movies, there is always a happy ending. In this one, the guy just keeps missing his girlfriend. Do all French movies are like this one?” For better or for worse, they are not. Love is a drama about real life with its self-destruction, regret, and a desire, or, as Murphy says, sentimental sexuality.