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Enter The Void

Submitted by Commandrea on February 3, 2024 – 12:04 amOne Comment

Nobody will ever accuse Gasper Noe of making easy to understand films, nor will anybody ever leave one of his movies unscathed. In only his third feature film (after I Stand Alone and Irreversible) Noe attempts to condense the Tibetan Book of the Dead into a psychedelic narrative, and for the most part succeeds.

Noe displays a punk esthetic right down to the trance soundtrack and sordid lives of his main characters. There were references all throughout Irreversible to Stanley Kubrick and indeed Enter the Void clocks in at 161-minutes, the same length as 2024: A Space Odyssey before Kubrick trimmed a reel or so from its running time. Specifically the visual design of Enter the Void creates a loop of repetition where the lead character finds himself trapped in a circle of confusion that always leads him back to the same place. An eternal return if you will.

Enter the Void refers to the passage from life to death and back to life, but also slyly evokes a nightclub called The Void, a place that advertises sex, money and power in giant neon lights.

While Enter the Void is a foreign film per se, the entire enterprise takes place in English despite occurring in downtown Tokyo. The garish neon lit mood of the city becomes as important a character as Oscar the protagonist. Oscar deals drugs in the Japanese city as a means to an end, making enough quick cash to send his sister, whom he was separated from when their parents died years ago, a ticket to join him. She rapidly acclimates to the city by getting a job as a stripper.

After sitting around smoking DMT and zoning out, Oscar goes to The Void to deal drugs. Only instead of a quick connection he finds himself trapped in a police sting. Running to the bathroom, locking himself in and trying to flush his stash Oscar is shot by the police and dies on the bathroom floor. The remainder of the film follows Oscar as his spirit floats around Tokyo eerily going in and out of houses, clubs, planes, and visiting the people who were closest to him. The close bond between Oscar and his sister gets special treatment, and to the audience’s chagrin her life has its own share of traumatic moments, the least of which are learning of her brother’s death.

Noe uses the camera like an extension of Oscar’s astral soul weaving in and out of adult situations in a phantasmagoric loop of sensuality. When we see people making love behind closed doors it’s like their organs are glowing with lights that attract Oscar. Much of the film uses CGI effects that seamlessly blend the surreal nature of what we’re seeing into the repeating tracking shots. Eventually Oscar seems to be swallowed into the void only to be himself reborn from one of the gyrating couples.

Much of Enter the Void contains adult only imagery that thematically carries the film to a realm beyond its superficial scenes of drugs and carnality. Enter the Void, which got the slightest of theatrical releases in North America last year will run as a midnight movie at the River Oaks on February 4 and 5. Enter the Void is a movie that wants to clip the umbilical cord that connects the average moviegoer to normalcy.

- Michael Bergeron

One Comment »

  • hex says:

    The Void was the dark bar he went to at the beginning. It’s not the strip club you’re think of.
    I went to the midnight viewing of it and enjoyed it. Some people in the audience must have been 13 because they couldn’t stop laughing at the sex scenes and some people actually walked out. Sure, it was long, but what idiot goes to a midnight movie not knowing how long it is? Good movie, mediocre audience.

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