Enter the Void

I watched this movie the other night on my friend’s projector and I was blown away by it, although I did not particularly enjoy the experience.  Written and directed by Gaspar Noe (with an accent on the “e”), an Argentinian filmmaker, in 2009, this 2 & 1/2 hour film can only be described as technically revolutionary.  Opening in modern day Tokyo, the viewer has to acclimate to a half hour of POV shots from the perspective of the main character Oscar.  Oscar is an avid hallucinogenic drug user (we find out later that he uses because of some serious childhood trauma) who has just recently reunited with his sister–raised in a separate foster home– in Tokyo.  With an obsessive interest in the drug DMT, Oscar quickly finds out that DEATH  is the ultimate trip.   For the remaining 2 hours of the film, we see Oscar’s past and the world he has left behind from the point of view of his wandering soul.  Noe does some really remarkable things in this film to communicate a disparate narrative that consistently jumps time and space and lacks a verbal narrator.  With some of the POV shots I was mystified by how he hid the camera from the frame (there’s this one part where Oscar is looking at himself head on in a mirror and washes his face in the sink where you see the reflection of the action and the simultaneous action being performed in the foreground as though the camera lens is Oscar’s actual eyes.  Its impossible to explain, one simply has to see it…). There are quite a few disturbing images in the film (including an abortion procedure) that were so effectively candid that they made me want to look away.  Noe  tests the viewer’s patience and commitment to the film with minutes of blank frames that punctuate the narrative (and make you roll your eyes– you simply cannot stay absorbed at that point), and delights the acid head or the itunes visualizer fan with long segments of the trippiest hallucinations.  All in all, it is definitely worth seeing–it truly expands the horizons of cinema.

  1. Dan’s avatar

    I saw this movie a few months ago and completely agree your response.

    It is truly a trippy movie that tests the audiences patience and shock-threshold repeatedly. I read in an interview that Gaspar Noe has been wanting to make this movie ever since he began experimenting with hallucinogenic drugs when he was 15 (he’s now 43). He’s been planning and developing the movie for many years. After his last feature-length film, Irreversible, was commercially successful, he secured the money and support from producers to complete his vision.

    The many parallels between Enter the Void and Irreversible (specifically the shocking sexuality and the corrupted narrative) which show Noe’s distinctive take on storytelling and film. My main criticism was on (after the clues were put together and the twisted narrative unraveled) how weak the story was. The relationship between DMT, death, and “exotic” religions can make for fascinating stories, but this story did absolutely nothing new. That being said, this film had the animations, shots, and dramatic storytelling to more than make up for it.

    Despite my criticism, the fact that Gaspar Noe got this film made AT ALL is extremely impressive. To realize a vision which so ambitiously pushes boundaries points to Noe being a very dedicated and hard-working film-maker.