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« TIFF: Embrace of the Serpent (and Oscar Foreign Film Updates) | Main | 1963 Look Back: Liz Taylor's 10 Best Looks From "Cleopatra" »
Thursday
Sep172015

TIFF: French Sexy Time Movies

Nathaniel, reporting from TIFF to assure you that the French still love la petite mort. Due to their graphic nature these reviews of Gaspar Noé's 3D explicit sex movie Love and the teens-gone-wild Bang Gang: a modern love story (which is about exactly what it sounds like it's about) are both hidden after the jump where naughty things must go... Think of the children!

LOVE (Gaspar Noe)
Already infamous before its Cannes premiere for its wet tongued, hard dick and cum splattered posters, this 3D sex movie is much more banal both visually and narratively than you'd expect. It was not unreasonable to expect more from the French provocateur who made Irreversible and Enter the Void. The banality of the story is surely, in part, intentional as Noé seems to be sending up dumb American xenophobia and entitlement via the Brando-lite mix of brutish misogyny and tender-feelings/thick-headedness of Murphy (newcomer Karl Glusman, totally game to be exploited). The dialogue is often atrocious but feels intentionally dumb.

 

The plot is as simple as simple can be. Boy meets girl and girl. One of the girls gets pregnant. The other girl boy obsesses over. That sort of thing. Noé is obviously poking fun at the audience (quite literally) willing to finance his gargantuan ego; the director actually takes his own dick out to thrust it at the camera in one jokey sequence where Murphy is trying not to think of his girlfriend's ex boyfriend's cock.  Noé isn't the type to employ stunt doubles so while this is a dumb juvenile joke, it's a totally committed one! (Imagine Lars Von Trier's The Idiots, minus its brilliance, with Lars actually joining in on the orgy... and the orgy lasting for half the movie)

The middle hour of this way way too long drama (132 minutes. Why?) is fairly involving with eye popping color, an extremely raunchy sex club scene, and two memorable uses of 3D -- two of the only uses so there are more missed opportunities here than unplugged holes. The middle section also has character arcs of a sort within the sex scenes, which is really what sex movies should be going for the way musical sequences in musicals ought to be telling the story rather than stopping the action for a song & dance break. But aside from the middle chunk the other 72 minutes or so is exhausting including a miraculously unwatchable framing device. How it ever survived the final cut we shall never know; no explanation could suffice. C-

BANG GANG: A MODERN LOVE STORY (Eva Husson)
No foreplay. This well crafted French film begins with a flash forward to the Bang Gang club in full hedonistic summertime glory.

A young man wanders through a party where the occasional naked body or background sex interrupts the otherwise familiar party scene from any movie or indeed any party you've attended. Out the window we see a redhead streaking. The film runs back to just before the hedonism began.

Beautiful blonde George (Marilyn Lima) has impulse control problems. We first meet her stealing hamsters from her high school with her best friend Laetitia (Daisy Broom) and purposefully come-hither staring at Laetitia's childhood friend and neighbor, the shy Gabriel (Lorenzo Lefebre); she's always testing her sexual power. Soon George is hopping on top of the similarly promiscuous but remarkably callow Alex (Finnegan Oldfield), a rich boy who lives alone on his parent's giant estate. Laetitia isn't willing to do the same with his best friend Nikita (Fred Hotier) but, curiousity getting the best of her, she asks to watch. And thus it begins, the intertwined horny curious experimental partying. Alex & George's brief exhibitionist union has ripples --- no, scratch that, full waves. Soon dozens and dozens of kids from their school are joining in their hastily imagined "Bang Gang" club, which is basically an intermittent clothes-optional cameras welcome party at Alex's house. 

The storyline may be nothing more than a naked French version of classic coming-of-age running-wild drama but what's special here is the filmmaking. Eva Husson, in her directorial debut no less, has a wonderfully acute sense of tactile images (often very sexy), colors and sound in combination -- particularly in the party sequences especially one in which we follow Alex out of his own party to clear his head. She also guides the actors into very naturalistic ensemble work. Their relationships feel real -- in fact, the movie doesn't feel acted at all. It's a real calling card film for this very promising new auteur.

For such a sexually charged movie the eventual climactic fallout (you can probably guess that rampant fucking of an entire high school class will have physical / emotional consequences) runs the risk of feeling like a conservative warning: don't experiment with your sexuality! What's more, Gabriel, the only teenager who seems to have a moral compass is the one whose parents are not at all invisible in his life. But Bang Gang is more modern and conditionally sex positive than that, pulling something beautiful from the wreckage, even as the teenagers are all forced to wise up. B+ 

Do you think explicit sex has a place in cinema or do you prefer that place to stay in its subgenre of "porn"?

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Reader Comments (7)

After exposing myself (no pun intended) to the likes of Stranger by the Lake and In the Realm of the Senses, I'm definitely getting more comfortable with the use of unsimulated sex in film. I still don't know how "necessary" it is, but those movies prove that it can be employed in a way that actually serves the story.

September 17, 2015 | Unregistered Commenterthefilmjunkie

I'm curious to see Love because I believe with his first 3 movies, Nóe has established himself as the most original filmmaker/technician to come out in the last 15 years. His ability to translate sensations and provoke a reaction is unparalleled, whether it is pounded into our bodies or not. It is not for everyone, but I actually can detach myself from the often horrific things we are asked to experience when watching his movies and actually admire the craft behind it. I don't mind when unsimulated sex is portrayed on the big screen, as long as it has visual impact (not the same angles as porn movies) and it serves the story. I don't think anyone has mastered that yet, so I believe it is something that still needs to be explored. The reason I think no one has mastered that is because most of the directors who attempted it are male and men usually learn about sex and how to have sex by watching porn. I would love to see Jane Campion or Agnes Varda take a shot at it. On the other hand, actors should be able to realistically play sex scenes without the need to make it real. It's a very complex subject, I believe, for I can't help but feel as though the actors(especially women) are, most of the time, being exploited.

September 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Goodbar

I WANT TO SEE LOVE!!!!

September 17, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterSteven

Saw Love earlier tonight. It's actually my favorite film of the fest so far so I'll have to respectfully disagree with pretty much everything you said. Ha! I don't think it is satirizing anything (though Noe includes lots of winking references throughout). I thought it was a very sincere film about a very flawed guy haunted by lost love and crushed by guilt over his role in losing it (the point of the framing device, I thought). The structure, the hypnotic editing schemes, and use of 3d (he uses it to create a hyper real image) and the sex (ditto) was all very effective. It is not at all what most people will expect, or want, I'm sure, but it was also unavoidably a Gaspar Noe film, and kind of glorious.

September 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterRoark

Sex belongs in cinema just as much as violence.

September 18, 2015 | Unregistered CommenterAnthony

Do you think explicit sex has a place in cinema or do you prefer that place to stay in its subgenre of "porn"?

Unsimulated sex and explicit sexual content are not one in the same. Please do not refer to porn as a subgenre. Porn's purpose is to get you off. Movies with unsimulated sexual content usually end up being curiosities instead of substantial arguments for unsimulated sex outside of pornography.

I love explicit sexual content in movies when it's the sole purpose of the movie: Fatal Attraction, Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Crash (1996), Cosmopolis, Maps to the Stars. And of course European cinema which has a monopoly in its depictions of human sexuality whether causal full frontal nudity and non-sensationalistic sex.

September 18, 2015 | Unregistered Commenter3rtful

Romance Movie is one of the best adult movie i watched ever

October 14, 2015 | Unregistered Commenter69 Adult

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