“Novo” is a bizarre combo of upscale French erotica studded with good-humored kinky sex scenes — and an art film trying unsuccessfully to talk seriously about memory and love. Pretty protags always ready to doff their clothes in public and plunge into a sexual fantasy ought to give pic an initial push on voyeuristic Euro markets, but the basic inanity of the plot will wilt long-term box office performance. It should find a natural home on the ancillaries, particularly homevid.
Graham (Spanish thesp Eduardo Noriega), who works in a totally white office devoid of normal office furnishings, at first seems to be the mentally handicapped victim of his sexually rapacious boss (Nathalie Richard), who takes advantage of him after hours while a cohort looks on. But he’s only suffering from total memory loss, following a martial arts accident.
His inability to remember anything he does during the day, not to mention his wife, son and whole past life, makes it hard for him to fall in love with breathtaking temp secretary Irene (Anna Mouglalis from “Thanks for the Chocolate,” here looking much like Liv Tyler). Every time they make love is the first time for him, which has its good and bad sides. Meanwhile they cheerfully cavort with shaving cream, ropes and magic markers in a variety of places. The sex is lighthearted but leads to nothing, as Graham can’t remember what they did an hour before. Irene resolves to remember their relationship for both of them.
On his fifth feature, director Jean-Pierre Limosin brings a host of potentially interesting ideas to the film, which he coscripted with novelist Christophe Honore. But they have no realistic foundation to stand on in a world of futuristic sets and costumes, and actors who are idealized to look like fashion models or comic book heroes. In the end, the characters are nice to look at but impossible to feel for, which is the underlying weakness of this technically innovative pic. Julien Hirsch’s energetic camerawork and Cristina Otero Roth’s lightning-paced cutting give film its “novo” look.