This review contains both mild spoilers and enthusiastic praise.
the Void is a 21st century "head" movie designed for consumers of
psychedelics, designer drugs, and potent substances yet to be invented
or discovered. Points of reference include the Star-Gate sequence from
Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey and the work of experimental
non-narrative filmmakers like Kenneth Anger, Tony Conrad, Stan Brakhage,
and Jordan Belson. Gaspar Noe's goal is
obviously not to tell a traditional story or create "likable" characters.
The intent is to create an immersive
experience that replicates varied states of human consciousness (real
or imagined). To this end, Enter the Void is a success. The film
is most certainly flawed: it is self-indulgent and barely holds together at times. However, the pureness of Gaspar Noe's vision
and the innovative means by which his vision is achieved trumps any of
the film's faults.
Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) and Linda (Paz De La
Huerta) are brother and sisters living in Tokyo. Oscar is a drug-dealer.
Linda is a stripper. Oscar dies. Enter the Void is based on the Bardo
(Tibetan Book of the Dead), and is structured as a journey through the
three bardos that come in the stages between death and reincarnation.
the Void is designed to look like a single long take, but of course,
this is an illusion achieved through seamless computer effects. In
fact, much of the film is digitally manipulated, and contorted to
reflect various states of consciousness. Marc Caro was art supervisor.
Pierre Buffin was visual effects art
director, and the digital effects were handled by his company BUF. If one
examines Caro's Dante 01, which was also made with the
involvement of Pierre Buffin, one can find the seeds
of some of the digital effects work (e.g., anatomical cutaways). The
effects in Enter the Void are far more ambitious and expensive,
though. The entire film occurs from Oscar's perspective. What Oscar
sees, the audience sees. Each time he blinks, the screen goes dark. When
he smokes DMT,
the squid-like geometric patterns appear before his and the audience's
eyes. Most importantly, when Oscar dies, the audience follows along.
Upon his death, the first-person perspective shifts from a person on the
ground to that of a spirit looking at the world below with complete
freedom of movement. The camera swirls, bobs, and rotates as if it's
suspended in liquid. The camera zips back and forth across the strip joints, bars, and back alleys of Tokyo, which is color-tweaked
into a bright neon dream world (or hell).
Adherence to the
creates what may be the film's two greatest flaws: length and
repetitiveness. Enter the Void currently runs two-and-a-half
hours with events repeating multiple times as Oscar makes his way
through the bardos. The length and repetitiveness
seem to be a reflection of the source material. If one looks at it from
this perspective, which seems closest to what the film is trying to accomplish, cutting it down defeats the purpose of the entire
exercise. Also, it is entirely unclear how cutting it down to 120
minutes or even 90 minutes would "improve" it. The film has already
been cut significantly since Cannes 2009.
This review only
skims the surface of the weirdness, beauty, ugliness and surprise that Enter
the Void contains. Experience
it for yourself and make up your own mind. The film will be released theatrically in France
in May 2010. An IFC
Films release in the United States is slated for late 2010.
Do you feel this content is inappropriate or infringes upon your rights? Click here
to report it, or see our DMCA policy