DAILY FILM DOSE: A Daily Film Appreciation and Review Blog: Enter the Void

Friday, 21 January 2011

Enter the Void

Enter the Void (2009) dir. Gaspar Noe
Starring: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Ed Spear, Cyril Roy


By Alan Bacchus

There’s a conscious effort to titillate our senses and provoke extreme reaction to this film. It almost goes without saying though for Gaspar Noe, who has carved out for himself this title as the current l’enfant terrible of cinema. He certainly gives Lars Von Trier a run, and this film seems to be him matching von Trier’s Anti-Christ experience.

Enter the Void is beyond Anti-Christ though. Beneath the salacious sex, anatomical closeups of the genitalia, hardcore drug use and general loopy psychedelic aesthetic is a warm heart, a genuine love for his characters to succeed and survive in a tough uncompromising world.

This heart also exists in Irreversible, Noe’s previous shock fest, a film known more for it’s graphic beating scene and the infamous rape of Monica Belluci’s character. What people rarely discuss is the genuine romance between his characters, which fueled the monumentally excessive dramatic journey of his hero.

Like Dave Bowman's leap into the infinite so is the neon blasted, strobe-lit rollercoaster ride Noe takes us on in Enter The Void. For most of the time we're behind the head of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a young American living in Tokyo, presumably a former backpacker who stayed in this electric city and got caught up in the twisted underworld of drug dealing. His estranged sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta) has just arrived in the city, a reunification completing their lifelong promise to each other after they split up in a complicated and melodramatic backstory. Oscar's criminalistic predilections quickly creep into Linda's life, thereby corrupting her as well. First it's a harmless hit of E, then some pelvic grinding with disreputable douchebags in a club, pretty soon she's stripping in a club and destroying everything that is straight and narrow in her life.

A drug deal gone wrong makes Oscar enemies with some nasty gangsters, which results in his death at the hands of the police. In this moment things get even screwier, when Oscar's DHT hormones kick in giving him the ultimate and final trip, flashing us around through the events of his life.

We're literally behind his head for two thirds of the film, as Noe frames his camera either from his point of view or behind his neck seeing what he's looking at. The camera floats around Oscar as he moves through space and time, with no seemingly no spacial or temporal limits. After Oscar fully dies we're still left with 45mins on the running time whereby Noe's camera becomes part of Linda's point of view and eventually a god-like omniscient viewpoint, perhaps Oscar's again from the afterlife watching where Linda will end up. The camera elegantly glides through inanimate objects connecting these time jumps, and in the most salacious camera moves, manages to fit inside Linda's cervix, through her birth canal and into her uterus wherein we get to see the miracle of life up close and in real time.

This is bold aggressive and hopelessly romantic filmmaking at its best, a filmmaker with all the tools at his disposal to challenge us aesthetically and intellectually, a true cinematic experience incomparable to anything we've seen before.

Enter the Void is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from EOne Home Entertainment in Canada

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