Today: April 18, 2024
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Enter The Void Cinema

With this year’s cerebral
blockbuster Inception proving that movies set within the mind can make for an
intriguing premise as well as impressive visual effects, Enter the Void goes a
step further by telling a tale about a young drug dealer’s death and the effect
this has on those around him from the point of view of the protagonist’s soul. The result is an intense,
trippy film that is sure to polarise viewers with its controversial themes and
meandering narrative
.
Either way, few can deny that, from a filmmaker’s perspective, it is an
astonishing achievement.

The controversy should
not surprise anyone who is aware of writer-director Gaspar Noé’s previous work.
Earning himself a reputation as the enfant terrible of French cinema, his previous and most famous film
to date, Irréversible, distressed audiences with its shockingly graphic depiction of rape. Now, with
Enter the Void, a movie which he has been trying to make for fifteen years, Noé
explores death, drugs and even incest in an equally explicit film designed to
overload the senses.

Set in Tokyo and told
entirely through the eyes of Oscar (Brown), with cuts and edits coinciding with
his own blinks, the audience follows a mundane day in which he takes hallucinatory
drugs, talks to his sister Linda (Huerta) and friend Victor (Alexander), but
then gets caught up in a drug bust and is shot dead. At this point, with the
camera still maintaining his viewpoint, Oscar’s soul leaves his body and
silently drifts between locations depicting the unravelling aftermath of his
death
. As he
witnesses Linda’s struggle to continue with her life and Victor’s attempts to
avoid being questioned by the police, he flashes back to the events leading to
his demise and, in particular, a childhood promise he made to his sister to
always look after her, even in death.

Apart from the
POV-style narrative, the most striking aspect of Enter the Void is the
arresting use of colour. The bubblegum neon signs of Tokyo set the visual tone
as Noé challenges his audience with frequent prolonged shots of pure light
filling every corner of the screen. From Oscar’s first hallucination, which
consists of organic shapes kaleidoscopically folding into each other, to eye-melting scenes in which his
spirit probes bright sources of light, the film delves into moments of swimming
luminosity that are clearly inspired by Kubrick’s stargate sequence in 2001: A
Space Odyssey.

While all of this
makes for uneasy viewing in places, Noé’s film was clearly never going to
pander to its viewers. His uncompromising vision of the afterlife sees Oscar’s
consciousness float from room to room, forcing the audience to become
voyeurs as he witnesses scenes of explicit sex and sheer grief among his
friends and family
.
In one particularly disturbing scene, Oscar’s spirit enters the body of his
sister’s sexual partner mid-intercourse to imply deeply rooted incestuous
feelings which are explored more fully in his flashbacks.

Oscar’s experiences of
life after death lies in accordance with the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a book
lent to him by philosophical friend Victor, as he impassively watches a
harrowing series of scenes in which all of those closest to him fall apart. It
makes for a relentlessly tragic film with little in the way of light relief
; even a few instances intended for
comedy, such as a moment depicting sexual intercourse from within the vagina,
seem slightly distasteful and ill-timed. This is, however, not a light-hearted
subject – in an emotionless portrayal of bereavement, Noé’s ultimate conviction
seems to be that life itself is meaningless. While this may not be a welcome
implication, the journey it takes to reach this conclusion is one of the most
engrossing, visceral experiences ever committed to film.

Marcia Degia - Publisher

Marcia Degia, who has worked in the media industry for more than 20 years, is the Publishing Editor of KOL Social Magazine. See website: thekolsocial.com

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