Enter the Void

Enter the Void ★★★★★

Gaspar Noe is one of the most daring filmmakers simple a plain, he spits in the face of conventions. The idea for Enter the Void was heavily influenced by The Tibetan Book of the Dead (which is referenced in the film), and in the book afterlife is described as being a journey for the soul where it freely travels through time and the world watching life go on as it searches for reincarnation. Oscar,a young drug dealer, is killed when a drug exchange goes wrong and his soul re-experiences his life as well as watches the lives of the people he knew that are still living. This is an existential journey at its most primal. Noe's hallucinatory visual techniques and highly experimental narrative structure give Oscar's soul a personality and allow us to experience various events from his past and after he has died. The major focus is Oscar's close bond with his sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta). We see the tragedy that formed their unbreakable affection and then the hardships and sadness that formed as they grew older together. We then watch sadly as Linda's life falls to pieces after Oscar's death. Their relationship also features Noe returning to a familiar exploration of the complexities of affection.

It's only fitting that Noe would use this idea to explore the anguishes and pain that comes from death and broken connections. Whether you are able to connect to the loose storytelling that embraces individual moments of emotion or not, the visual spectacle is a wonder of its own. Influenced by Noe's experiences while using drugs in his youth, and that is exactly what it feels like, a complete mind-trip. The colorful Tokyo setting accommodates the intricate visual designs sublimely. Ironically, substance wise - as in what is going on within the visual spectacle - this is Noe at his subtlest. While his prior two films - I Stand Alone and Irreversible - and known for their graphic violence and scenes of exhausting rawness, there is a tender and lingering quality to the emotions on display here. Instead the entire 160-minute runtime is used to connect us to Oscar's soul and the people he cares about. The bizarre climactic Love Hotel sequence is more of what we have come to expect from him, the rest of the film uses the concept and style to portray events and emotions without heightened drama. This is an ambitious passion project by a director who has mastered his own aesthetic, and the film truly is an out-of-body experience.

Adam Moody liked this review