Enter the Void

Enter the Void ★★★★★

Enter the Void isn't the kind of film that lets you get comfortable and just takes you for a ride. The film masquerades as an interpretation of death via the Tibetan Book of the Dead -- the soul of the deceased Oscar floats around and observes the lives of his friends whilst seeking a vessel suitable for reincarnation -- but this is only the means by which Gaspar Noé chooses to exhibit his vision. Noé takes you soaring through a neon-lit Tokyo, but the experience is one of trauma rather than of ecstasy. The people who reside in this vibrant purgatory drift aimlessly, connected only by their mutual torment. Though they seek refuge in each other, their affections are as counterfeit and as fleeting as the distance between them is vast. And perhaps that is the point.

As depressing as it is, you can't help but marvel at the film's beauty. It's ironic that a film as dark as this would also be so colorful. Scenes are bookended by hypnotic hallucinations, and the frequent erotic imagery is equally entrancing. Visually, Enter the Void is nothing short of remarkable.

I realize this is a polarizing film. I can definitely see the meandering nature of it as being boring to some, especially to those who might not care for its visual appeal. Admittedly, there was a time not long ago when I might not have liked it myself. Upon watching it, I could feel something niggling at the back of my mind: I was wondering how to respond.

Enter the Void is truly a one-of-a-kind film. It's exceptional not only in originality in which the narrative is conveyed, but in how it treats the viewer. After Oscar's death, the viewer essentially becomes the protagonist. You witness a selection of his memories, but after that Oscar becomes a non-character -- he ceases to exist in terms of the narrative, and you are railroaded around and shown different vignettes to which you, the viewer, have to decide what you, the protagonist, are feeling or thinking. Of course the nature of the medium is to manipulate emotion, but Enter the Void does so in such a unique way that you can't help but admire Noé's creativity. Maybe this all just sounds like I'm babbling incoherently, but there was a moment in the film when I realized that I actually identified as the protagonist, rather than with him, and it was quite startling.

If Enter the Void is not to be admired for it's engrossing, electric atmosphere, it is certainly to be commended for it's bold direction in storytelling. It's a shining, neon gem of a film; an absolute masterpiece.

tonono liked these reviews