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Oct 29 2015

Interview: Gaspar Noé on Shooting in 3D and How 'Love' is Like a Musical

Karl Glusman and Aomi Muyock star in "Love"

Josehere.When I show up to meet Gaspar Noé,he offers me a cigarette.I gladly accept it and we sit by a window where we puff the smoke to the beat of the sounds of a construction site below us.For a moment I feel like a teenager and remember having to wait to have the house all to myself so I could watchIrréversiblewhen I was 16,without having people constantly interrupt me.For all its provocation and controversy,Noé's oeuvre isn't as much about shock value as it is about finding deep connections between people.This is a filmmaker who literally goes under the skin to uncover the miracle of life,how we're made,how similar we are to each other.

InLove,he takes this concept to a place of utter sublimity as he chronicles the ups and downs of the relationship between Murphy (Karl Glusman) and Electra (Aomi Muyock),two young people who despite being enraptured by all-consuming passion,grow apart due to jealousy and secrets.To bring us closer to the characters Noé shot the film in 3D and he uses the medium playfully and sensually.Squeamish audience members might find themselves wishing they'd brought a poncho during some of the film's most explicit moments,but Noé also finds true beauty in the curves of breasts,the pearls of sweat that appear on the backs of lovers during intercourse,and in the alien-like quality of tongues tangled in a kiss.As much as his films shock and alienate people,he just wants us to get closer.As we sit by the window he says "we're in closer company because of the cigarette",then he smiles.

More onLoveafter the jump.

JOSE:I've always felt that the ending of Irréversible was quite romantic,and I feel thatLovewas an expansion on that part of the film,so to speak.Did you revisitIrréversiblewhen you wrote this?

GASPAR NOE:Actually I originally proposedLoveto Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci before we madeIrréversible,they said yes and we got to work on getting the financing;however,when they read the treatment they said they wouldn't be able to do it.So I said,since we all have free time,and financing,let's do something else instead,and we improvisedIrréversible.That's probably whyLovereminded you ofIrréversible,I actually regretted not having done a more sexual sequence with Vincent and Monica,even though they had simulated sex in the film,they felt kissing was very intimate and they had so many people busting their balls about how the public would perceive them that they decided to do something tamer.I sawLovewith both of them recently and they loved it,they commented how they would have loved to do it,but weren't able to.I'm very happy with the version I ended up making though.

JOSE:People always comment on the violence and sex in your films,but I actually think you're a hopeless romantic.

GASPAR NOE:I thinkLoveis mammal rather than romantic.

JOSE:Is the way you use 3D in the film a reaction to the fact that Hollywood movies literally shoot audience members with bullets and explosions,but faint when they see a boob?

GASPAR NOE:Audience members know bullets and explosions on film are fake,maybe not explosions,they really destroy buildings...but there's very few people who have seen guns and bullets in real life,however we all have sex,we all love,we've all gone through heartbreak and were dispossessed of the most exciting thing we've known.So watching images of carnal love on a screen confuses people,carnal love is something we see in real life but rarely on screen,so when they see a sex scene they get caught up wondering if it's real or not.I find it fascinating that whenever there are movies with convincingly real sex scenes,the publicity focus is on whether the actors were having sex or not.ForLoveI don't care what we did or didn't do,I want to talk about the film,not its fabrication.

I was so excited about the film being in 3D.

I don't know why 3D ended up being used only for sci-fi or horror movies.3D creates a certain intimacy.Years ago I was taking pictures with a regular film camera and used a vintage 3D picture viewer,but about four years ago they started selling very affordable Sony 3D cameras,so I bought one.My mother was very sick at the time,she was on her deathbed,so I would come to see her in Buenos Aires every couple of weeks and I started taking her picture with this camera.I would then see these images and there was something quite thrilling almost,about seeing my mother this way.Sometimes it made me think of a coffin and I felt she was really there.One of my friends told me the French government was giving funds to make 3D films so I applied and two weeks later they let me do it.I'm very happy with 3D,it makes you feel like you're spying on them.You feel like a fly,or a butterfly on the wall.

Gaspar Noé in NYC on 10/28.Credit: Jose SolisDo you think American society is more conservative when it comes to sex?

Not exclusively.Europe is the same way.During the sexual liberation in the 60s the movies also became liberated,however those doors that were opened have gotten a little rusty.Nowadays films aren't as erotic as they were in the 70s and 80s even,movies now are about heists,war,cannibals,zombies or sentimental comedies.It's strange that romantic relationships are so misrepresented in Western film.

When you madeEnter The Voidyou commented on not having seen any films that reflect real love like you had experienced it…

There's one film that is very similar to what one would call a "romantic addiction",it'sBlue is The Warmest Color.

The same people who producedLove

Yeah,in France Wild Bunch produces all the bold films.They're the best.Also the success ofBlue is The Warmest Colorprobably helped me raise money to makeLove.There should be a genre called "passionate love",in which stories of survival and social issues are combined with love scenes.That's how it happens in life.Love scenes in films are very conceptual,sex isn't conceptual,it can be joyous,fun,or there can even be some psychological domination.In films we see people dancing and swimming all the time,so why can't we see them having sex?Why is sex such a conflictive element to commercial cinema?

Has cinema taken on the task of censuring itself?

It's collective auto-censure.The State doesn't ban it,it comes from producers,directors and artists.Sex isn't dirty,it's an act that brings life.

IsLoverebelling against the Madonna/whore complex that we see in so many films,in which kink is reserved for extramarital,"dirty"affairs and people who are in love turn the lights off for sex?

I'd say there are many things I wanted to see on screen and I'd never seen them how my friends and I perceive them.

The sex scenes inLoveare beautiful,because you're not cutting away all the time,most of the time the camera remains still and we see the actors move within the frame.

Originally I thought the film would have even less dialogues than it does,but once we added dialogues we improvised,the movie took on the structure of a classic musical,you have dialogue,then a love scene,dialogue,then a love scene...and as in musicals you're waiting for the musical number to arrive,because that's what brings you the most joy.The dialogues were better than I expected too,they were funny because they were improvised by fun,charming actors.Their human qualities show up beyond what's on the screenplay.

Speaking of musicals,knowing your love of2001: A Space Odysseyand howEnter the Voidis so much like a sci-fi adventure,are you interested in exploring genre films in a more direct way?

I like music,and I like seeing people dancing,so more than a musical,I'd like to a dance film someday,in which we see people use their body to express in a musical way.

Usually critics spend most of their time trying to decipher what references filmmakers use in their work,however inLoveyou give them your references right away.We see posters ofSalo,or the 120 Days of Sodom,Taxi Driver,there's scenes that revolve around2001: A Space Odyssey,you cast yourself as one of the supporting characters...did you want people to focus less on references and more on the essence of the film?

I also wanted to use the score fromEraserheadand show a poster ofUn Chien Andalouwhich are my main references.I really wanted to make a film with the things I love the most in life.Beyond my love of those films,I also really love the posters for those films.Love is about my life,the lives of my friends,it's a movie where I use the elements I know the most about.

Loveopens in theaters tomorrow.

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Reader Comments (4)

Having watched the film yesterday and heard what Noé had to say afterwards in the Q&A,I'm convinced there is a reality disconnect for Noé when it comes to the depth he believed to have created in this particular piece.He either seems to be out-of-touch with his perspective on his own work or the genre/style (erotic melodrama) seems to elude him (hey,maybe Wes Anderson would also be awkward at tackling the war movie genre).
I do believe he is being as honest and authentic as he can in the representation of a typical sexual relationship according to what he has experienced or those he is close to have experienced.However,he seems to be oblivious to the fact his (non-)actors,his improvised script and the applied technique do not sell the passion,the veracity,the eroticism and the depth of relationships such as the one he alludes to,at least not in a dramatic,mature and compelling way,and those shortcomings expose the harsh reality that maybe this is a topic he doesn't really know much about other than superficially.That obliviousness is also present in his own insertion in the movie,which becomes a huge distraction and goes against the style he proposes.Whenever he appears on the screen or the characters' names Noe or Gaspar are mentioned,there is always a comic reaction from the audience (which he mentioned to be surprised by).I actually prefer to look at this movie less as Noé's attempt at a realistic sexual drama or a "romance addiction"tale;it makes more sense to me that this is his version of a romantic comedy,sans romance nor comedy,and edited a la 21 Grams (which I appreciated very much,especially after his explanation that our memories never work in chronological order).
I do believe love addiction is something so misrepresented in the movies and in literature when it is so common in real life and appreciate that movies about that topic are being made.No matter what,Noé is a cinematic voice unlike any other and his faults (directing actors and creating a rich script) don't take away from the ability he has to communicate his vision precisely in an authentic,original and bold way.

October 29,2015 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Goodbar

Saw this one last week here in Sweden and it was such a drag!It´s technically well made,often quite beautiful but many of the shots/effects have been used before by the director and they´re getting a bit tiresome by now.The script is often laughable,the dialogue is very corny and the main character is quite loathsome.And yet again,I wonder what Noé really feel about trans/gay/queer people,one of the most ridiculous/worthless scenes involves a less successful session with a transgender (?) prostitute.
On the whole a failure and the sex just gets boring after a while.Ending this rant by saying that I really liked Irreversible so I can see that Noé is a talent but his head is a bit too far up his own ass.

October 29,2015 | Unregistered Commenterhaajen

I agree with you guys,I like Noé's intentions,but "Love"dragged along too much."Enter the Void"was more riveting and intriguing.

October 30,2015 | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

Also,number one rule when working wth non-actors or inexperienced ones: never have them improvise dialogue!

November 1,2015 | Unregistered CommenterMr.Goodbar

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