Enter the Void
d. Gasper Noé /2009 / France / 137 mins
Downstairs @ Prince Charles Cinema (London, UK)
What can you say about a film like this? Really?
Noé’s fluid/florid style absolutely dominates every one of your aural and visual senses, to the point that its hard to gauge the quality of its performances or the strength of its narrative, making it even harder to adequately describe. Enter the Void is undoubtedly stunning visually – certainly like nothing I have ever seen before – but is that really enough?
Populated with both brief moments and long stretches of gawping brilliance, Enter the Void also possesses – comparatively, at least – more than a few periods of pretentiously dull quasi-profundity. In fact, at no point does it become clear whether this new emperor of the senses is wearing very much at all.
And if you strip away all the visual trickery and formal experimentation, Enter the Void actually has, at its core, a fairly conventional storyline. Having recently convinced his sister to move to Tokyo, a young man’s involvement in drugs trade leads to his death, after which his spirit travels through time and space to reveal an agonising tale of parental loss, sibling separation and nihilistic hedonism. But Noé has never hidden this fact, of course, using the Cannes press kit to give Enter the Void the apt designation of ‘psychedelic melodrama’.
And in the end, although I admire Noé’s audacity and applaud his willingness to experiment with the cinematic form, I’m still not entirely sure whether I actually ‘enjoyed’ Enter the Void. Then again, I can at least admit that Gasper Noé’s latest opus has affected me: I haven’t been able to watch film of a car going through a tunnel ever since.