Enter the Void
By far Gaspar Noé’s most daring film to date, Enter the Void is a tale that offers a unique take on death and the afterlife. Oscar (Nathanial Brown), a drug dealer, and his sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta), are now living in Japan together after spending several years apart. One day Oscar’s friend, Alex (Cyril Roy), gives him “The Tibetan Book of the Dead” to read. The book outlines what happens to the soul after people die. According to the book, besides seeing your entire life flash before your eyes, there are four avenues that your soul takes before deciding on where it will ultimately end up. After being set up by a “friend”, Oscar is killed while trying to evade the cops. Although his body may be dead, Oscar’s spirit is about to go on a whole new journey as he watches over the lives of his sister and his friends.
Despite being a film about death, this is far from a bleak film. Enter the Void is a visual assault to the senses as the film is filled with various neon colour, slick special effects, and unique camera angles. The fantastic title sequence alone is a loud, seizure inducing, treat that sets the tone for the film perfectly. The first half of this movie is simply stunning. Not only are the visuals breathtaking, but the way Noé uses them to tell the story is brilliant. A large portion of the film is shot from a first person perspective. The viewer sees thing through Oscar’s eyes as he floats around as a ghost. Even when Nathanial Brown appears on screen, we often see the back of his head, or a side profile.
The best part of the film is when Oscar’s spirit goes back in time and we see his entire life up to the point of his death. Noé not only gives us a better understanding of the sibling’s relationship, but also highlights how the choices Oscar has had a ripple effect that will lead to his death. Where Enter the Void begins to falter is in the second half where some of themes Noé touches on become rather repetitive.
While the repetition in the film is suppose to signify the continual cycle that human beings and their spirits go through it does make for a bit of an endurance test. At a running time of two hours and forty minutes, Enter the Void could have easily been trimmed down in the second half. The four stages that the spirit must go through is a fascinating concept but each stage runs too long. After a while the fish bowl-style lens, that proceeds the camera diving into the light, is no longer an interesting film technique. Even when the film culminates at the Love Hotel the use of lighting in the sex scenes goes from outstanding to overkill in the span of fifteen minutes.
Enter the Void is a film that I am somewhat hesitant to recommend. The first half is brilliant but the second half will cause some to pull out their hair. Enter the Void is by no means as disturbing as Noé’s previous film, Irreversible, yet it does have content that may not appeal to a large section of viewers. Still, if you are willing to let yourself go on a wild ride, this is one film that you will not easily forget after you have entered the void.