Review: Love

 

DIR/WRI: Gaspar Noé • Pro: Brahim Chaoiu, Vincent Maravel, Gaspar Noé, Rodrigo Teixeira, Edouard Weil • ED: Denis Bedlow, Gaspar Noé  • DOP: Benoit Debie • Mus: Pascal Mayer • CAST: Karl Glusman, Aomi Muyock, Klara Kristin

Relentless provocateur Gaspar Noé returns to our screens with this sexually-explicit opus which follows an American film student living in Paris, Murphy (Glusman) and his doomed love affair with the depressive, fiery, sexually experimental Elektra (Muyock) and his subsequent fall into parenthood and domesticity with another woman Omi (Kristin), whom he does not love. We piece together the story of Murphy and Elektra’s stormy affair through flashbacks to episodes in their time together, intercut with the present, as Murphy muses how he’s gotten himself into this situation.

Since the film’s premiere at Cannes much has been made of the film’s sexual frankness and the fact that it was shot and is presented in 3D.The sex and 3D in fact turn out to be the least notable aspects on show here. The former is pervasive and hardcore, but this is hardly anything new in arthouse cinema. The idea of the director of Enter the Void making a film in 3D certainly seemed like an interesting proposition but for the most part the 3D effects seem unnecessary. There is the odd moment when Noé uses it interestingly, generally in scenes outside of the bedroom, such as a fiery argument between Murphy and Elektra in the back of a taxi and also in a couple of nightclub scenes in which the effect captures an atmosphere and dreaminess that seems fresh. For the most part the effect is used in a subtle way and Noe resists the temptation to fling things at the audience, apart from one shot in which Murphy ejaculates out into the crowd. Well, this is a Gaspar Noé film after all.

Noé himself has stated (as does Murphy, who is clearly a surrogate for Noé in the film) that what he wanted to do was to make a film exploring sexual sentimentality. Indeed, Noé allows far more sweetness and sentimentality into Love than encountered in his previous, aggressive pictures I Stand Alone, Irreversible and Enter the Void. Noé himself has compared it to Love to Blue is the Warmest Colour in its emotional and physical frankness. There are times in the film when this works and Noé does capture something raw, honest, sad and, indeed, beautiful. Unfortunately, however, these moments are far too few and instead the viewer most endure lots of silliness, indulgences, wretched dialogue and indifferent acting on its way to climax.

Noé has argued there is a continued conservative attitude to showing sex in films and has suggested to really examine romance one must examine the sexual side of it in the same manner as all other things. This is a fair point and his use of Blue is the Warmest Colour as an example of a counterpoint is a good one in that it did achieve these goals. In that infinitely superior picture the viewer was submerged into all aspects of the couple’s relationship. This was achieved through an intense attention to detail of which explicit sex was a part of, but also through the relatability of the characters, and through profoundly brilliant acting from the leads.

After a decent, sober start it does not take long for Love to plunge headlong into pure male fantasy. Poor Murphy’s problems with Elektra, you see, stem from them having a threesome with their 17-year-old neighbour Omi. They do this because its Elektra’s biggest sexual fantasy to have sex with a man and another girl. Of course. Following this, when Elektra is away for the weekend, Murphy just can’t help himself once more and has to have sex with Omi again, this time by himself, at which point he impregnates her and so ends his romance with the love of his life.

To be fair to Noé, he never suggests that Murphy is a character we should necessarily like but it is a grave mistake on his part to allow what could have been an interesting, moving look at lost love to become so far removed from its intentions by indulging in such (ahem) hard to swallow contrivances. And it’s not just here that the film emits dubious and depressingly conservative attitudes to sex and gender. There is an ear-bleedingly banal conversation about abortion, not to mention a tasteless and unnecessary scene in which Elektra coaxes Murphy into having (another) threesome  – this time with a transsexual prostitute – which is played somewhat for laughs. At one point early on Murphy also states that he fears if he leaves Omi she might turn his son ‘gay’.

There are other problems beyond the weary conservatism on show. Noé seems determined to shoehorn as much of himself as he possibly can into the film. It’s already been noted that Murphy is a surrogate for Noé himself: he’s an aspiring filmmaker with a taste for the controversial, his apartment is adorned with posters for Salo and Birth of a Nation, his favourite film is 2001 (which is also Noé’s). On top of this Murphy and Omi name their child Gaspar and, most hilariously, Noé himself turns up in a bad wig as an art dealer ex-boyfriend of Elektra’s. There’s a strong whiff of Tarantino at his most indulgent about this aimless self-reflexivity. There’s nothing wrong with a filmmaker being self-referential but it needs to be done with wit or to a purpose, both of which are lacking here.

There is no question, however, that Noé is an extremely talented filmmaker. He has exhibited great formal innovation in his previous works. It is the opinion of this writer, however, that his ideas are not as good as his practise. Irreversible is a powerfully realised film but that too was somewhat bogged down by simplistic philosophies and ideologies. Enter the Void – his best film – managed to transcend some on the nose dialogue, due to the sheer originality of its form.

Love is a deeply frustrating film. For all the seemingly endless flaws it has, it still retains some unquestionably brilliant flourishes and moments. Noé continues to experiment with the idea of a cinema of subjectivity. The blinking of the main character’s point of view in Enter the Void is used here once again to break through time. For example Murphy might one moment be in a room with Omi, the image will blink like a person would, and all of a sudden he will be in a different place and time, most likely with Elektra. This beautifully conjures up the mosaic like nature of memory and its role in human relationships and experiences.

It’s also beautifully shot by Noé regular Benoit Debie, it features some terrific use of music and sound, and at its best it really does touch upon a kind of insanity and tenderness all too rarely seen in films about romance. It’s just such a shame then that it is all weighed down so heavily by Noé’s adolescent world-view.

 

David Prendeville

18A
135 minutes (See IFCO for details)

Love is released 20th November 2015

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Love, Rosie

love rosie

DIR: Christian Ditter • WRI: Juliette Towhidi, Cecelia Ahern PRO: Simon Brooks, Robert Kulzer  ED: Tony Cranstoun DES: Matthew Davies CAST: Lily Collins, Sam Claflin, Tamsin Egerton, Suki Waterhouse, Jaime Winstone, Christian Cooke, Art Parkinson

According to the trailer for Love, Rosie,  the film adaptation of Cecilia Ahern’s Where Rainbows End,  “sometimes you don’t see that the best thing that’s ever happened to you is right under your nose.” However, that’s surely only the case for the protagonist Rosie. Indeed, in the one and a half hours of “missed” romantic opportunities that the audience is subjected to, there’s really no doubting what the “best thing” is for Rosie. Yes, you guessed it – it’s her best-friend-that-she’s-always-been-friends-with-but-maybe-really-fancied-but-never-thought-about-it-until-it-was-too-late.

However, I’m not going to lie and say I didn’t enjoy this film. It’s no Oscar-winner, but it’s certainly a good-natured tale of romance between two very attractive protagonists – Lily Collins as Rosie and Sam Clafin as her best friend/romantic interest Alex. In fact, associating Cecilia Ahern adaptations with the incomprehensibly terrible P.S I Love You (Richard LaGravenese, 2007), which comprised of Hilary Swank wandering from Wicklow to Whelans in the blink of an eye and Gerard Butler’s heinous attempt at an Irish accent, Love, Rosie is a breath of fresh air. However, the Irish setting remains slightly problematic insofar as the two protagonists have extremely proper English accents, while it is very clear that it was filmed in Ireland.

The opening scenes of the film are perhaps the most enjoyable part. Indeed, I was suitably impressed with the film’s attempts at cringey Girls-esque body humour, in which Rosie ends up in hospital with a condom stuck in her nether regions after a night spent with school stud Greg (Christian Cooke). Despite the promise of an innovative approach to the romantic comedy with such explicit gross-out scenes, it is a pity that Love, Rosie falls into an ever-so-formulaic narrative structure.

Added to the boredom of such a formula is the fact that Rosie ends up pregnant and decides to have the baby because – even though she doesn’t believe in all “that stuff” – her parents are Catholic so of course she’s having a baby. This narrative trajectory seems a little out of character for Rosie who appears to be full of ambition, knows where she’s going in life and who ends up pregnant after a one-night stand with a guy who does a runner when she admits she’s pregnant. Anyway, she has the baby, wheareas the male protagonist is allowed to go off and fulfil his dreams in Boston. Meanwhile, Rosie becomes a cleaner.

The years go by, the protagonists don’t age except for some quick hairstyle changes, Rosie’s daughter grows up into a rather precious brat and Rosie continues to be a cleaner. The baby-daddy returns, there are many tearful moments akin to a Douglas Sirk melodrama and Rosie and Alex just can’t seem to get it together. Will love prevail throughout the years of heartbreak and missed opportunities? Can life ever be good again? I won’t ruin it for you. Everyone loves a good cliff-hanger.

 Heather Browning

15A (See IFCO for details)

102 minutes

Love, Rosie  is released 24th October 2014

Love, Rosie – Official Facebook

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Constantin Film begins production on Love, Rosie

LoveRosie[1]

 

Production began on Monday (13th May) on Love, Rosie, a romantic comedy based on the bestselling book Where Rainbows End from Irish author Cecelia Ahern (P.S. I Love You). Love, Rosie will be filming on location in Toronto, Canada before moving to Dublin, Ireland for the remainder of the shoot.

The film stars Lily Collins (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Mirror Mirror) and Sam Claflin (The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Snow White and the Huntsman) as Rosie and Alex, best friends since school who find that life often gets in the way of love but, true love just like true friendship, never dies. The question is will life allow them to get back into synch with each other after having missed so many opportunities?

Starring alongside Collins and Claflin are Jaime Winstone (Made in Dagenham, Donkey Punch, Kidulthood), Christian Cooke (Cemetery Junction), Suki Waterhouse (Pusher, Material Girls), Tamsin Egerton (St Trinian’s, Chalet Girl, The Look of Love), Jamie Beamish, Ger Ryan and Lorcan Cranitch.

A Constantin Film production in association with Canyon Creek Films and RD Film Productions, Love, Rosie is directed by Christian Ditter (Wickie and the Treasure of the Gods, The Crocodiles) from a screenplay by Juliette Towhidi (Calendar Girls). The film is produced by Constantin Film’s Robert Kulzer (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Resident Evil film franchise) alongside Canyon Creek Films’ Simon Brooks (White Noise). Executive Producer is Martin Moszkowicz (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones, Resident Evil: Retribution).

Author Cecelia Ahern said today “I’m beyond excited that my novel Where Rainbows End is going into production now and that it’s being filmed in Canada and in Ireland. I can’t wait to see Rosie and Alex’s love story come to life on the big screen!”

Mister Smith Entertainment is handling foreign sales for Constantin Film. Constantin Film plans on releasing the film in 2014.

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