Review – Enter the Void
– review by Julia Brown
Bad boy director Gaspar Noé’s latest film, Enter the Void, is mind-altering in more ways than one; indeed, this is the kind of movie that gets inside your head, whether you like it or not. While not designed to shock in the way that Noé’s previous films Seul Contre Tous and Irréversible were, Enter the Void contains more than a few moments where the viewer must fight the urge to look away from the screen.
From the credits onwards, the film assaults your visual cortex. The setting is a somewhat surreal version of Tokyo – as if Tokyo wasn’t surreal enough. In this neon-coloured context, the audience is introduced to the protagonist Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) by being immediately thrust inside of his head while he is in the midst of a drug-induced haze.
And that is only the beginning. Not to include any spoilers in this review, but Noé certainly has a knack for going places that many other directors would not even think of going – including right inside the vagina of another one of his main characters, Oscar’s hyper-sexualized sister, Linda (Paz De La Huerta). That is, of course, just one of many oddly-sexy-yet-disturbing moments in the film.
That said, there are other moments – and this film can only be described as a series of moments, versus a traditional narrative – which are painfully realistic. Most of the time, Noé maintains an out-of-body point of view, but occasionally brings the audience crashing back down to earth in the most unnerving ways. Still, the whole thing remains oddly detached, which I suppose is partly the point, given the main character’s Scrooge-like status (again, to avoid spoilers, I won’t say any more than that).
Enter the Void defies criticism because it is about nothing and about everything all at once – life, death, birth, rebirth etc. This broad, cosmic view is both the film’s strength and its weakness, because while it can’t help but have a strong visceral effect on the audience, it lacks enough focus to be intellectually satisfying on any level. This is a movie you can definitely immerse yourself within, but at the end of the day, you’re not totally sure what you think or feel about it all.
Overall, Enter the Void is either a work of genius or voyeuristic indulgence, depending on your perspective. If you enjoy the visual aspect of film-making (and film is a visual medium, after all), you will not be disappointed. However, if you like a little bit of narrative and character development in your movie-going experience, then you will walk away from this film fairly empty-handed.