It promises all sorts of muck, and muck it delivers. ‘Love’ is a 3D sex film from Gaspar Noé, the French provocateur behind ‘Irreversible’ (violence, rape) and ‘Enter the Void’ (drugs, prostitution). It’s filthy and has many of the foibles of porn – bad dialogue, can-I-borrow-some-sugar plotting – but Noé holds back from showing hardcore penetration, although it’s hard to imagine his cast aren’t actually having full-on sex here.
No one could accuse Gaspar Noé of being boring. He shocked us with rape and extreme violence in ‘Irreversible’ (2002) and spun out on a seriously bad psychedelic trip in ‘Enter the Void’ (2009). For some, the 51-year-old director is a cult hero; to others he’s the maker of unwatchable pretentious nonsense. Noé’s latest boundary-pusher is ‘Love’, an intimate romantic drama about a young couple, shot in 3D and set in Paris. The big question is: are the actors doing it for real?
After ‘Enter the Void’, you said you wanted to make a porno movie. Is this it?
‘I just used that word. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but for me porn doesn’t have a bad image. When I was younger I used to watch these French and American movies from the 1970s on VHS. Porn was cool. Now porn is cold. It’s all guys with tattoos and shaven girls with lots of plastic surgery. I don’t know where you look if you want to see sexy images these days.’
‘The cum shot is real’
So you’re usually disappointed with sex in movies?
‘Yes, I always watch thinking that I’d love to see a movie that looks like my life or my friends’ lives. Why do we see all these sentimental movies where there’s no carnal connection between the characters on screen? Why do we see all these stupid porn videos where people have useless carnal connections that are totally free of emotions? Why don’t we have more movies close to life?’
How difficult is it finding actors when you’re making an explicit film?
‘It’s an issue. To be naked they need to be happy with their bodies. And they need to deal with their families, their boyfriend or girlfriend. When you’re talking to actors about this sort of movie, you know that 90 percent of them won’t do it.’
The question everyone’s asking about ‘Love’ is whether the actors are actually having sex? What are you telling people?
‘Nothing. It’s not an issue. What changes if I say “yes”, or “no”? Nothing changes. Movies are movies.’
How did you negotiate with the actors about what they were and were not willing to do?
‘You discuss their limits. Many of the acts are simulated because people didn’t want to do it for real, but I’m not going to get into what is real and what isn’t. What’s important is that when we see it on screen, it looks real.’
‘Ninety percent of actors won't do this sort of movie’
How nervous were the actors?
‘Karl [Glusman, the lead actor] was totally intimidated the first day when I asked him to masturbate in front of the camera. He wanted to run away. But he didn’t and he’s happy now.’
Why did you make ‘Love’ in 3D?
‘About four years ago I bought a cheap 3D video camera. My mother was very sick and she died a few months later and I used it to film her. I noticed that when I watched those images on a 3D screen, they looked so real; they were far more touching than a regular 2D film.’
And once you’re using 3D was it kind of inevitable that you would make a money shot?
‘I didn’t do many pop-outs. I like the one when a character is smoking a joint and the smoke comes out of the screen. The cum shot you’re talking about is real, we just had to slightly enhance it. But a magician should never reveal his tricks!’
‘Love’ is in cinemas from Fri Nov 20.