Friday, March 4, 2016
Devlin's Domain - Love
The Domain is getting all sappy this week as I cover a film that contains no death or bloodshed. It's a film that studies something that I know all too much about, yet will never know enough. Don't let the title deceive you, because my Domain isn't a place for uplifting stories. I hope you're ready to have your feelings hurt.
Life is an abysmal journey with no clear purpose and an unavoidable end. Between the bookends of birth and death is where the voyage varies for each of us. We all take many different paths to our ultimate destination, but one thing we have in common is our search for love along the way. The word itself draws memories to mind of past or potential experiences. Every one of us either has it, lost it, or wants it. It's a force that drives us. It's a reason to wake up and go to the job you hate. For some it's something worth dying for.
Love can be a splendid thing, but that's not always the case. The perceived goal for the average person is to meet someone that you fall in love with, commit to them for a lifetime through the ritual of marriage, and start a family to carry on the DNA of the couple for generations. This is likely an outdated system as evidenced by the divorce rate. At one point in time divorce was not allowed or was frowned upon. It's a nice thought that two people can exist in joy's embrace for the entirety of their existence, but it's not realistic. Love is a motherfucker. Nobody understands it or controls it. It moves all over the place possessing a body and jumping to another.
True lifelong love is an extremely rare thing indeed. Love isn't the "happily ever after" tale that Hollywood feeds the public. Those stories leave on a high note and avoid showing what really happens 5-10 years down the line. As great as love can be, it will turn against you and leave you. The separation is violent and painful, like losing a limb. Director, Gaspar Noe does not shy away from showing the true face of desire and human connections. The film I'm reviewing today may not explore the entire lifespan of a relationship, but it does focus a zoom lense on the highs and lows of the thing we call...
I reviewed Gaspar Noe's film, Enter the Void, a couple months ago if you haven't read it yet. In that movie Noe commits acts of unsimulated sex to film. It was a bold move due to the risk of having his art labeled as porn. But Noe is a director who gives no fucks, which is apparent in this film. The film runs about 2.5 hours and is chock full of full frontal, unsimulated sex. So if that kind of stuff offends you, maybe you shouldn't have sex.
You don't have too wait long for it, because the opening scene is a long shot of one of the female leads, Electra, stroking and caressing the penis of the male lead, Murphy. I would say it's a suitable way to begin the film. It establishes immediately how far these artists are taking things so the viewer can decide whether they can handle it or not. The sex, although graphic and very real, is in no way pornographic. The scenes are beautifully shot, slow, and sensual. The sex is actually telling most of the story, so it may seem gratuitous to some. I argue that it is not gratuitous at all. Love manifests itself physically and that's exactly what he shows us. There are also some sex scenes where love is absent. It's all part of the story.
The story is told in non-linear fashion, and bounces back and forth to different points in time. Murphy and Electra are furiously in love and as new lovers do, they have sex like there's no tomorrow. Electra is a frivolous nymph who wants to fulfill all of her desires. One of those desires is to bring another female to the bed with them. Of course this is music to Murphy's ears, as it would be to most heterosexual males. As fate would have it a young woman meeting all of Electra's specifications moves into the same building and becomes friends with them.
The new girl, Omi, enters into sexual congress with the couple and everyone has a grand old time. This new sexual experience excites Murphy and he begins to pursue Omi without Electra's knowledge. This is where the relationship begins to deteriorate. What was a shared experience is now an experience that Murphy keeps for himself. Things are further disrupted when Electra proposes bringing another man to their bed. This was definitely not appealing to Murphy.
Murphy's double standards and hypocrisy come to the surface as he is overcome with jealousy. He has no problem engaging other females, but is disgusted when Electra seeks pleasure for herself. The final nail in the coffin of their relationship is a condom that breaks inside Omi. Omi gets pregnant which forces Murphy to own up to his responsibilities as a father. Murphy and Electra separate and Murphy moves in with Omi.
After a couple years without Electra's presence, Murphy gets a call from Electra's mother who is trying to find her. He sets out to find where she disappeared to and begins to reminisce on the relationship they had. He's stuck in a relationship he hates with a child he didn't want and is still in love with the wild harlot he left behind. He starts to unravel as the gravity of the situation begins to crush him.
As stated before the story is mostly told through various sex scenes so there is very little dialogue. The dialogue there is isn't anything special. It's mostly filler and there's just enough to move the narrative along. There may have been a few profound, meaningful statements scattered here and there. It's definitely a film that requires patience and some may find it boring. I had a great appreciation of the cinematography and storytelling method. I was also impressed by the commitment of the actors to be totally exposed for most of the film.
IMDB rates this one at 6.0, but I'll give it a little extra and raise it to 7.0. While being a great work of art, it's just not that entertaining. It's not something I'm going to want to watch multiple times. It is definitely worth watching once though, and I'll probably buy the Bluray just because it's a Noe film. Also, this film was intended to be seen in 3d, so I'll have to watch it at least one more time for that effect.
Perhaps I'll return to the gut-wrenching, disturbing cinema I'm known for next time in the Domain. You'll just have to wait and see.
About Me: I have a couple of different aliases, but for this column I will use my middle name. I am Devlin and I currently reside in Atlanta, GA. 32 years of age and still feeling immortal. Former Rockstar, current Pro Wrestler and hell, I'm still a Rockstar at heart. I got my first taste of obscure cinema when I was about 8 years old. My Dad would take us to the video store every weekend to stock up on classic horror films to watch on his projector. They were mostly harmless, PG-rated horror films like the great Universal monster movies. Then one night he rented a movie for himself to watch after we had gone to bed. I was so intrigued by this film that I wasn't allowed to see. I begged and begged and he eventually caved. That night I was exposed to a film unlike anything I had seen before. Ever since that night I wanted to find more films that gave me that same sensation. I wanted to feel shock and disgust. I found my place in the Horror aisle. The film I watched was Faces of Death. Thanks Dad.