“Electra, what is your ultimate fantasy?”
This is the truly appealing initial sentence that opens the doors to the personal and totally seducing Gaspard Noé’s conception of Love. This plain word, raw and naked, is used to entitle his latest controversial fatigue, which debuted at 2015 Cannes Film Festival and received lots of different reviews that, whether excited or totally indignant, certainly put the French film on everyone’s lips. The plot of the movie is rather narrative: “The film revolves around the lives of a cinema school student named Murphy, and his former girlfriend Electra, whom he dated for two years, before sleeping with another woman, Omi, who happened to get pregnant as a result of Murphy’s infidelity. This unwanted pregnancy ended the relationship between Murphy and Electra on a very sad note. One rainy morning, Electra’s mother, Nora, calls Murphy to ask him if he’s heard from the young woman, because she hasn’t for quite a while now, and given her daughter’s suicidal tendencies, she is really worried. For the rest of this day, Murphy recalls his past with Electra, filled with drug abuse, rough sex, and tender moments.”
By reading these involving lines it seems natural to ask ourselves why, even after its first appearance earlier this year, this film is so controversial and people still talk about it as something so outrageous and taboo-like; before that France minister of culture and communication, Fleur Pellerin, asked for film certification to be bumped up to -18, it was banned to young people under -16: what is prohibited is far more exciting and wanted, of course, and this fact unavoidably raised the hype for the movie by 2,000%.
The film release has been preceded by these gluey, sticky and arousing images of lips kissing, limbs touching, lots of sperm and saliva that could efficaciously contribute to the raise of global warming in a very heavy way. However, we could wonder why these pictures that depict pure, hot and well-done sex are associated to the delicate word of romance par excellence; they seem to communicate the ‘make sex’ thing, rather than the ‘make love’ one. The reference that could easily appear in mind is Nymphomaniac of course, the super-duper controversial film by master Lars Von Trier, that presented his two volumes masterpiece through images in which orgasmic expressions were depicted on every naked actor’s face; however, twist of fate, under Nymphomaniac’s advertising photographs the statement “Forget about love” stands out with force. If Nymphomaniac is firstly imagined as a film about sex, and the preconceptions would be fully satisfied, it’s not automatic that Love is a film about love. But the promotional images are reducing too, it’s not merely about sex or perversions, and not even pornography.
“As soon as you say pornographic, people get scared, but the film talks about people being in love from a sexual stance,” says Noé. Love is a story of a relationship, and involves every aspect that gravitates around it, from delicate romance, to exciting passion, to rough sex. Noe’s idea of love, as reported in a recent interview, is based on his association of this feeling to drugs: like substances, it choose you and you can’t do anything except accept it, you abuse it, you can’t stay without it. It is your highest point and your lowest depth, you could be absolutely happy or totally devastated. And Love incorporates everything.
So, what is Love? Before starting with “Baby don’t hurt me, don’t hurt me, no more” – as Haddaway would say, find the film if you can and press play.
Article by Marina Lepori