Cannes: Gaspar Noe's 'Love' Hits Screen, but Will U.S. Audiences See Same Film?

Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

“We will do everything we can to protect this masterful film,” an Alchemy executive said.

Audiences are about to get a first peek at Gaspar Noe’s hyper-sexual 3-D release Love Wednesday night. But will theater-goers see the same film — said to be a graphic ode to the three-way — when Alchemy releases it in the U.S.?

“Alchemy supports Noe's vision and is excited to bring the Cannes version to theaters and as many platforms as possible in the U.S.,” said Brooke Ford, executive vp marketing at Alchemy, which bought North American rights to the film on Friday. “We will do everything we can to protect this masterful film.”

If Love lives up to the hardcore hype (the film centers on the erotic relationship between a boy and two girls), Alchemy will have to walk a delicate line of appeasing its French auteur — whose previous film Irreversible featured an extended rape scene with actress Monica Belluci — and assuaging potential output partners. Given that the upstart distributor is not an MPAA signatory, Alchemy doesn’t need to secure a rating — meaning the film will likely go out unrated in the U.S. (like Lionsgate did with Irreversible in 2003) or with an NC-17 (like IFC Films did with 2013 Palme d’Or winner Blue Is the Warmest Color).

But unlike those two films, Love faces the unique challenge of being 3-D and would need theater partners outfitted for 3-D. And like other Alchemy titles, Love will go out on Netflix’s streaming service. Netflix has streamed other NC-17 films in the past, like Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution and Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant, but the company’s policy is murky.  

It also remains to be seen if the Love teaser posters that have already circulated — including one with a nude woman's hand clutching a male's genitalia after climax with the tagline "Coming soon" — will survive the film’s eventual U.S. release. But the last thing Alchemy wants is a war of words to erupt as happened between Ferrara and IFC over Welcome to New York (the filmmaker called IFC executives “punks” and accused them of trying to compromise his film by asking for an R-rated cut).

“We are not in the business of retooling or censoring an artist's work,” Ford said.

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