The two have a young child whom Murphy loves deeply, although he feels trapped and unfulfilled in the cramped apartment they all share; his inner thoughts reveal themselves via humorously obnoxious voice-over. Throughout, Noé peppers his film with a meta playfulness. Visual motifs to his past work crop up either as props within the film, or via visual cues (Murphy and Electra's fraught dissolution shares that same hellish colour palette as the more nightmarish scenes from Irreversible). The further decision to name Murphy's son 'Gaspar' invites us to make autobiographical comparisons between the film and its maker. These self-indulgent touches may irritate some, and they certainly threaten to pull you out of the film, but they also pose the question - which many a prominent filmmaker has grappled with - of just how far the director's own psyche consumes his film? If Love isn't quite as technically accomplished as either Irreversible or Enter the Void, Noé's striking formalism is still very much evident and works surprisingly well with the 3D (playfully, he can't resist the ultimate three-dimensional money shot).
Murphy's past and present are revealed in flickering jump-cuts (sometimes interrupting a scene, mid-flow) the effect of which evokes the feeling of being shuffled back and forth in an intimate slideshow of the lovers' time together. We're privy to their foibles, sexual recklessness and sometimes destructive behaviour, some of which will prove uncomfortably recognisable for those who have navigated an emotionally-volatile relationship - even if they've never been tempted to visit and participate in a John Carpenter-soundtracked sex dungeon (this is a Noé production, after all). The director's framing device and the sometimes languid flow of his film will undoubtedly prove divisive, but it yet again marks Noé out as a fearless artist. If his previous work has helped solidify his lofty position amongst cineastes, Love is proof he can branch out, dial it down (by his standards) and produce a thoughtful and stimulating entry into cinema of the uninhibited.
Adam Lowes | @adlow76