Director: Gaspar Noe
Cast: Paz de la Huerta, Nathaniel Brown, Cyril Roy, Olly Alexander, Masato Tanno
IFC Films / Region A / Unrated / 2.35:1 widescreen / ENGLISH Dolby Digital 5.1 / Subtitles in English SDH and Spanish / 161 minutes / BUY FROM BOULEVARDMOVIES.COM
Disk Extras: Deleted Scenes / Teasers and Trailers / VFX / Vortex / DMT / Posters
Argentine cum French filmmaker Gaspar Noe burst onto my radar with all of the controversy that surrounded his 2002 rape/revenge film Irréversible, starring the gorgeous Monica Bellucci. The film depicts a gay man inexplicably raping Bellucci’s character in a very violent and graphic manner that disgusted a lot of viewers. Roger Ebert started his review of the film off by saying “Irreversible is a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable” but ultimately defended it by making the case that the since the film is shown in reverse chronology, it doesn’t exploit the subject matter. Apparently, finding interesting and more graphic ways to tell his stories is what Noe does because Enter the Void is like no other film I have ever seen in many ways.
The overall narrative of this dark and wildly imaginative film is the stark study of love, regret, drugs and the afterlife. Siblings Oscar and Linda are American kids living in Tokyo, Japan supporting themselves by dealing drugs and stripping, respectively. Their parents were killed in a horrible head-on collision when they were children and they were separated by the state until reuniting later in life. The two share a very strong bond so when Oscar is killed by cops in a drug sting, Linda’s life begins to fall apart as she leans on her lover (and strip club owner) Mario, who she doesn’t really love. Before dying Oscar was told by his friend Alex (who is hot for Linda) to read “The Tibetan Book of the Dead”, a book about death and the afterlife. As he is dying, his perception (and the camera point of view) floats above his body and begins flying through the city, observing the lives of those he left behind and having flashbacks of his and Linda’s childhood.
To explain more than that would be giving too much away. Noe shoots the entire movie through Oscar’s eyes; at first it’s like we are in his head, seeing him only in reflections. After his death the camera just floats and flies, witnessing everything from above. In the flashbacks, we see the back of Oscar’s head. You would think that this kind of gimmickry would become tedious and annoying after the novelty wears off, but you would be wrong. The style is completely immersive and sucks you right into the whole psychedelic, neon nightmare. The drugs that Oscar sells and is addicted to are hallucinogens so we, as viewer, are treated to sights and sounds unlike anything I have seen in any movie before. You are completely baptized in the trips that Oscar and his soul takes in the real and ethereal. Noe did things with the camera I would think impossible, like flying for blocks and miles of the city over and through walls with no perceived edits to allow for cuts. The crane work must have been exhaustive.
The graphic nudity and sex shown, especially in the last scenes in the “Love Hotel”, are pretty shocking and bordering on, if not completely, hardcore. In other words, Gaspar Noe hasn’t lost his touch when it comes to antagonizing and jolting viewers from their stupor. I was sucked in literally from the opening credits which emblazoned the acknowledgments with a cocaine-fueled fervor. The man is an artist who calls the shots from his own playbook and is the kind of filmmaker who inspires others. I have read many detractors of Enter the Void who claim that it’s too self-indulgent, overly long, shocks-for-shock’s-sake and even boring but I couldn’t disagree more on all counts. I couldn’t help but be completely entertained and moved at the same time. Everything within the trappings of this visual masterpiece belongs there and even the end, which I had to watch a couple of times, brings you to love and feel for the very human characters who live in this garishly vibrant and compelling film.