Saturday 24 August 2019

Movie reviews: Love, Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans, The Perfect Guy

Driving ambition: The Man & Le Mans focusses on Steve McQueen's attempt to combine his love of acting and cars
Driving ambition: The Man & Le Mans focusses on Steve McQueen's attempt to combine his love of acting and cars
Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington

Paul Whitington reviews this week's other big releases - Love, Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans, The Perfect Guy.

Ever wonder what an erect penis looks like in 3D? Well wonder no more, because Gaspar Noe's Love (1*, 18, 135mins) is full of them. They jiggle around and push their way centre-stage and entirely dominate the agenda of this silly, crass and thoroughly dislikeable film. And you never, ever see them in repose: they're always pumped up, primed, and ready to spray the camera with their essential oils and fluids. In fact at one point they actually do that, a squirm-inducing moment made even more ghastly by the illusion of three dimensions.

Mr Noe is a provocateur from way back. In Irreversible (2002), his camera paused lovingly over an extended anal rape scene involving Monica Bellucci; and in Enter the Void (2010), a recently murdered drug dealer floats disembodied over greater Tokyo. Attention-seeking stunts aside, however, these films had other ambitions, a semblance of structure. Love is laudable merely in a technical sense, and is otherwise disingenuous, and seedy.

Its plot entails a love affair between an American twit and a gap-toothed French sexpot, who converse in bad English and spend every waking hour humping and fiddling with each other. All of this is lavishly and graphically photographed, and Mr Noe, the old darling, even gives us a womb's-eye shot of a hard-working flute doing push-ups in a uterus.

Mr Noe will claim that his film is an attempt to rescue loving sex from the evil clutches of pornography. Pull the other one I say, though on reflection that seems an unfortunate choice of expression. And the fact remains that while sex is usually great fun if you're doing it right, depicting it realistically on-screen invariably resembles a bad day at the butcher shop.

In 1970, Steve McQueen came to Europe to begin filming a project very close to his heart. Then the biggest star in Hollywood, McQueen used all his power to gather a big budget, star director and some of the world's best drivers for a film he hoped would be his crowning achievement, and gloriously entwine his two great loves, acting and motor-racing. But Le Mans would turn out to be a bit of a car crash, in more ways than one.

John McKenna and Gabriel Clarke's documentary Steve McQueen: The Man & Le Mans (3*, 12A, 102mins) uses period footage and interviews with everyone from champion drivers to McQueen's ex-wife and son to tell the story of this quixotic project, which thankfully is a good one. But it's a bit long, and McQueen does not emerge with a huge amount of credit.

He was, it seems, not particularly nice, nor especially bright. And if a man's deepest, most abiding love is fast cars, what does that say about his soul?

A plodding B-picture with some gloss but no class, The Perfect Guy (2*, 15A, 100mins) could fairly be dismissed as Fatal Attraction for slow learners. Los Angeles career woman Leah Vaughn (Sanaa Lathan) has just split up with her boyfriend when she meets a suave and impeccably mannered gentleman in a coffee shop. When they run into each other again, Carter (Michael Ealy) asks her out to dinner, speaks quietly and doesn't try any funny stuff on the car ride home. She decides he's an angel, and they start to go out.

He even manages to charm her overprotective father, but when Carter batters a man half to death for talking to Leah, she realises he has a screw loose and calls the whole thing off. Carter, though, won't take no for an answer, and begins stalking Leah, sneaking into her house at night and making grandiose threats he might just be loopy enough to enact.

What films with premises as hackneyed as this should do is have a bit of fun with them, ham it up a little and let us know they're in on the joke. But The Perfect Guy is plodding, deliberate, entirely free of wit. Still, at least it includes no 3D penises.

Coming soon... Bridge of Spies (Tom Hanks, Mark Rylance); Black Mass (Johnny Depp); Carol (Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara); Being A.P. (A.P. McCoy); The Good Dinosaur.

Irish Independent

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