Sitges 09: ENTER THE VOID Review

Founder and Editor; Toronto, Canada (@AnarchistTodd)
Sitges 09: ENTER THE VOID Review
[With two very positive reviews of Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void already published here at ScreenAnarchy you may consider my own take on the film to be a dissenting view.  Find the others in the archive.]

Unfocused, poorly thought out, and largely pointless, Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void is the cinematic equivalent to masturbation, a film with seemingly nothing to say beyond "Hi, I'm Gaspar and I've got an expensive toy.  Look what I can do with it."  Hobbled by poor performances and a weak script, crippled by its devotion to a poorly advised stylistic gimmick, Enter the Void is a wildly over-long demonstration of a prodigious talent left to roam freely and turned staggeringly self indulgent as a result.  Clearly there was nobody - absolutely nobody - involved with this project with the power or influence to suggest that maybe - just maybe - some wrong turns were being taken here.

Enter the Void is shot entirely from the point of view of Oscar, a young American man living in Tokyo.  With seemingly no aim to his life other than to be reunited with his sister Linda, from whom he was separated after the tragic death of their parents, Oscar simply drifts through life by the simplest means possible, scraping a living together as a low level drug dealer.  His sister?  Equally aimless, earning her money as a stripper once she joins Oscar in Tokyo, the siblings' relationship laced with uncomfortably sexual undertones.

Shot entirely in a first person perspective through Oscar's eyes - Noe goes so far as to include a blinking effect in the early going - Enter the Void aims to be a portrait of both Oscar and Linda's lives along with the dirtier side of Tokyo, a task it approaches with a drifting, floating camera that comes untethered from the real world when Oscar is gunned down during a drug bust gone bad, his spirit left free to roam both his memories and the earth.

The idea of following a soul is, undoubtedly, an interesting idea on paper and would likely make a very strong short film but as presented here - in a roughly 2h45m cut that differs from the two previous versions screened in Cannes and Toronto respectively - the film is simply far, far too long with no narrative drive whatsoever.  Nothing is actually about anything at all other than Noe's own fixations on sex and violence, the pointlessness of it rendering the entire exercise entirely banal, so much so that Noe actually manages the difficult feat of rendering a sprawling scene of multiple, explicit sexual encounters enormously boring.  None of the actors here are particularly strong, their performances hindered further by Noe's insistence on maintaining the hovering and drifting approach to camera work - a move that may represent the untethered state of Oscar's soul, sure, but one that also means you are constantly looking down on the actors from above, a vantage point that prevents you from actually witnessing or engaging with the large majority of their performances.  Throw in a script that leaves virtually every major character rendered in two incredibly flat dimensions and you have a recipe for disaster.

And then there are the interminable connecting shots, the lengthy connections between scenes, nothing more than the camera drifting over top of Tokyo rooftops looking down into the city.  It's a shot that Noe returns to again and again.  And again.  Lengthy connections that add nothing but run time to the whole affair there must be thousands of rooftops in this film, and not a single one of them particularly interesting.  By the time the film finally reached its climactic conclusion - bad pun very definitely intended, for those who know what I'm talking about - I. Just. Wanted. It. To. End.  [Insert drifting roof top shot here] But it didn't. [More roof tops] Tedious and self absorbed in the extreme.

Enter the Void

  • Gaspar Noé
  • Gaspar Noé
  • Lucile Hadzihalilovic
  • Nathaniel Brown
  • Paz de la Huerta
  • Cyril Roy
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Gaspar NoéLucile HadzihalilovicPaz de la HuertaNathaniel BrownCyril RoyOlly AlexanderDramaFantasy

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