Tag Archives: Sex

Love: Interview with Gaspar Noé


Seen at Cannes 2015

Format: Cinema

Director: Gaspar Noé

Writer: Gaspar Noé

Cast: Aomi Muyock, Karl Glusman, Klara Kristin

France 2015

135 mins

Cannes 2015 Coverage

One of the most talked about films at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, Gaspar Noé’s latest offering is a labour of love, in every sense of the word. Noé’s first feature since Enter the Void (2009), the drama takes intimacy to a graphic third dimension, chronicling the sexual and drug ventures of an American who falls in love in Paris. But even if Noé is pushing the envelope in a similar vein as he did with his previous films, Love (3D) is more sensual experience than exploitation.

Pamela Jahn caught up with the Argentine director right after the film’s premiere to talk sex, Salò and pubic hair.

Pamela Jahn: Has the response so far been as you’d expected?

Gaspar Noé: I don’t know. I haven’t read many reviews yet. And actually, I fell asleep while watching the movie. I woke up when the credits came on, so the only response I had was from the people at the afterparty.

It’s the first time you shot in 3D, but it’s used in a quite subtle way throughout, apart from a couple of scenes.
Yeah, I didn’t want to do ‘pop-out’ all the time. There are only two, or maybe three moments, where you see things pop out from the image, mostly penises or the hand of the girl. I think the reason why I wanted to make the film in 3D is mostly because it looks a bit more real when you see the images on the big screen, or even on a smaller screen. There is some kind of vulnerability in those images that makes them more touching or emotional in 3D.

Was it difficult to get the actors to do exactly what you wanted them to do?
No, not at all. One day though, Karl Glusman was worried when we were shooting the scene with the transvestite. He asked me, ‘Where are the limits with that scene?’ And I said, ‘There are no limits.’ Actually, I knew that nothing would happen, but he didn’t know what I would ask him to do, so he was afraid. But when he realised what was going on, he started laughing. It was the funniest shooting day ever.

You found both actresses in nightclubs. What exactly where you looking for in terms of their characters?
Klara was just dancing, but she was dancing extremely well. But it didn’t need to be a club. I also quite often stop boys or girls in the subway or on the street, to ask them if they would be interested in playing a supporting role in a movie, and I take their number. I never talk about the main character because then people get overexcited, but once you make the first contact, all you have to do is film them with your phone or a small video camera to see how they look on screen. And I did a test with Klara and Aomi and they were both great. So then I had to introduce them to the guys who would potentially play the main character. At that point, I was still considering three or four guys, but I also thought that Karl was by far the best choice, and the girls agreed.

In the film, Karl plays a young film director and the posters on his walls seem to reference your personal taste in cinema. How autobiographical is his character?
It’s not autobiographical, it’s just the kind of people I know… or, let’s say, a mix of me and many different guys that I know. Even if his cinematic taste might be similar to mine, his behaviour is totally not. And mostly he is in his own mind anyway. He talks shit about women, but in a way, you don’t know what most people think, why they don’t talk.

Do you feel Love is maybe a bit more conventional than your previous films?
Maturity! I’m getting to a maturity zone… [laughs]

Oh, really?
No, it’s just… if you want to commit a new crime, make it different to the previous one. I’m not going to redo any of my previous films. And actually, shooting in 3D was a new game for me, plus I was always talking about making a film with lots of sex scenes and here it is. I dreamt for years of watchching a movie of this kind, where sexuality is portrayed as it is in life and not as it is in adult videos or what they call ‘erotic cinema’ these days. Because actually, erotic cinema has disappeared, it was a genre in the 70s that really existed and now it’s nothing – there’s erotic photography but no erotic cinema. But also, I would still not call it a conventional film. For me, the way sex is portrayed is very banal or close to life in a good, healthy way, yet it’s not conventional… but maybe less intentional.

Was it a conscious decision by you that the girls would keep their pubic hair?
It’s sensual, I wanted the movie to be vintage. Personally, I really don’t get aroused at all by girls who shave their pussy, and I wanted the women to be attractive on screen. At one point I was considering a very pretty young porn actress from the States to play the part of Aomi, but the issue was that she was shaving and it would have taken too long for her to let it grow again. We even thought about maybe sticking some fake hair on her, but it was very messy, so finally I decided it wouldn’t work. Also, the lack of pubic hair reminds me of adult videos, or what people call pornography, because now in modern porn images the girls are always shaving. But also, that even shocked me when I watched La vie d’Adèle, because at one point her girlfriend is painting her and you see she has no pubic hair and I thought it didn’t fit with her character. She is supposed to be very natural, almost like a country girl, and seeing her shaved just looks more like a porn image to me.

What do you make of adult cinema today?
I don’t know, I lost track. I haven’t watched porn since I was 25. I liked the movies from the 70s like Defiance (by Armand Weston), or the French pornography from the 70s like Jeux de langues by Francis Leroi. For me are they were arousing, much more than those Californian videos with girls who look like firemen or soldiers with tattoos. But also, your sexual interest changes during your lifetime. I remember when I was 20, I would get very excited watching two girls having sex together, and nowadays I feel it can be good and that’s it, I don’t get aroused. But maybe that’s because I have less testosterone than when I was 18 or 20.

Are there any boundaries in cinema that you wouldn’t cross?
I don’t know, because when you say that I don’t know which boundaries I could think of. Irreversible always comes second or third place in a list of the most violent films ever, amongst A Serbian Film and Pasolini’s Salò;. But even Salò , for example, is a clean movie. As long as not everything is fake and the message is right… Salò might be hardcore to watch, but it’s also a very clever movie, a useful movie.

This interview is part of our Cannes 2015 coverage.

Interview by Pamela Jahn

Watch the trailer:

Matt Thorne is Paul Hackett from After Hours

After Hours
After Hours

Matt Thorne was born in Bristol in 1974 and is the co-founder of the literary movement The New Puritans, whose manifesto ditched flashbacks and authorial asides, and called for simplicity and contemporary relevance in British fiction. He is the author of a critical study of Prince (Faber & Faber, £12.99) and six novels, including the semi-autobiographical 8 Minutes Idle (Phoenix, 2001), which has just been made into a film. The dark, romantic comedy, directed by Mark Simon Hewis, is set in a Bristol call centre, inspired by Matt’s stint manning the phones on the night shift; unlike the film’s hero Dan, Matt didn’t take up residence in the office stationary cupboard. Eithne Farry

8 Minutes Idle was released in UK cinemas on 14 February 2014.

I find it quite hard to identify with characters in most Hollywood films, as they tend to be men of action rather than procrastination. This runs in my family. I remember my father being disgusted when Patrick Swayze in Dirty Dancing smashed a car window to get to the keys inside, rather than fashioning a noose with a coat-hanger, hooking it through the window and trying to pull up the lock, no matter how much screen time this might have taken.

But there are a few characters I connect with. They tend to be the protagonists of noir films or screwball comedies; people who end up in trouble largely through no fault of their own. There were a few of these characters in the early 80s, like Tom Hulce’s C.C. Drood in Slamdance. I identified with Graham Dalton in Sex, Lies and Videotape, because he carries only one key as he doesn’t want to complicate his life, but I can’t choose him because I don’t go around videotaping women talking about their sex life.

So it has to be Paul Hackett (played by Griffin Dunne) from Martin Scorsese’s After Hours. A ‘word processor’ in New York, he has a certain impatience with life (when a temp starts telling him about his literary magazine, he just gets up and walks away), but it’s hard to blame him when every reassuring thing around him turns out to be scary. [SPOILER] He meets a waitress in a café who shares his taste in literature, but when they go home together she tells him distressing stories about her ex and commits suicide. He meets a nice guy in a bar who offers to help him, but he turns out to be the boyfriend of the waitress. [END OF SPOILER] I’m not saying my life is quite that dramatic, but I identify with the regular guy using his wits to get out of a trap.

It was because of After Hours that I sought out an office job when I started to write, and my own experiences as a temp influenced 8 Minutes Idle. But whereas Paul Hackett was just trying to get home, Dan Thomas is homeless and forced to live in his office, and the experiences he goes through are even more comically extreme than those experienced by Hackett. I suppose I identify with characters who do nothing more daring than stay up late looking for love on the wrong side of town, only to discover that’s a far more daring adventure than anything Indiana Jones ever experienced.

More information on Matt Thorne and his books can be found here.

Matt Thorne