Director: Gaspar Noé (Irréversible)
Screenplay: Gaspar Noé
Producers: Brahim Chioua, Vincent Maraval, Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier
Starring: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Running time: 161 min.
Considering that it’s been floating around the festival circuit for nearly two years and has been seen and written about countless times including no less than two reviews here at Row Three, I was going to skip a review of Gaspar Noé’s Enter the Void but the pull to share my thoughts is far too strong, even if they echo much of what’s already been written about the film.
By this point, everyone’s aware of the basics of Noé’s film which traces the relationship of brother and sister even beyond death. Oscar, a young man living in Japan, gets into the drug dealing business as a way to raise funds to pay for his sister Linda’s plane fare. She arrives, he continues to deal and eventually, the job gets him killed. For the next two hours, we experience Oscar’s last moments as he relives the important moments of his life (they say your life flashes before your eyes before you die) and then as he searches, as an ethereal entity, for a new body for his soul.
The story itself isn’t particularly profound but Noé’s approach is unique. Using a camera which always seems to be moving, a style that I first experienced in Noé’s Irréversible and which he continues here though in Enter the Void that camera movement seems much more fluid giving the entire film a dream-like feeling; appropriate considering the protagonist is dead for most of the film’s running time. Not as new but used to great effect is the view of the scenes leading up to Oscar’s death from inside his head. Julian Schnabel made great use of the method in The Diving Bell and the Butterfly and Noé makes it his own, expanding the experience to put the viewer into a nightmarish world of gorgeous drug induced dreams and then later into spirit form. Noé’s use isn’t quite as profound as Schnabel’s but he’s certainly put his own stamp on it.
I was completely drawn in from the opening scenes and the first third of the film is genuinely engaging (even the dog was mesmerized) but partway though hour two, I found myself soothed into a kind of dream state where I stopped caring about the story and was simply happy (for the most part) to be carried away by the sweeping camera. It’s a magical effect, almost like a drug induced trip without the drugs and for me, this is the film’s ultimate success: its ability to tap into some part of the subconscious and evoking feelings and ideas that lay mostly dormant. I’d never before considered my afterlife but you’d better believe I thought about it at length the night after seeing the film.
Even in this dreamlike state, Noé still manages to push buttons and some will find much of the subject matter disturbing and perhaps downright ugly; but then, it wouldn’t be a Noé film if it didn’t push a few buttons.
Enter the Void isn’t so much a movie as it is an experience, something best watched on the big screen with big sound that drowns out everything else. I felt like I missed some of the experience watching this on DVD and pine for the opportunity to catch this at the local cinematheque as it’s likely this will become a staple of the art film circuit. For now, it’s highly recommended that if you have the capability, bypass the DVD and head straight for the Blu-Ray release for the closest theatrical experience. As for the weed (or whatever your drug of choice is), you may want to seriously consider leaving that for later viewings.
Enter the Void is available on DVD and Blu-ray on January 25th.
DVD Extras: An interesting collection of extras considering this the kind of project that is usually dumped onto DVD. They include a collection of deleted scenes, none of which have gone through post production, a number of teaser trailers including a few that were never used and that from what I remember, never appeared online. Also included are a number of different posters for the film, “Vortex” and “DMT” clips which together they run approximately 10 minutes and that are basically extended sequences of both the vortex scene and the DMT trip at the beginning of the film. The most interesting bit of extras is the 12 minute long VFX reel which plays continuously with no audio commentary and provides a pretty good idea of how some of the shots were created. Watching this reel I was reminded of how effects heavy this film is which is something that didn’t cross my mind when I “experienced” it.
Click “play” to see the trailer:
Flixster Profile for Enter the Void