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Stunning...in many ways
grmagne15 September 2009
If the following things disturb you, then you should probably avoid this film: strobe lights, drug use, shaky hand-held cameras, graphic sexuality, sperm, spinning cameras, psychedelic imagery, blood, gay sex, abortion, breastfeeding or a graphic auto wreck.

But if you're still intrigued then sit down and get ready for nearly three hours of mind-blowing imagery that you'll never forget! Although IMDb lists the Toronto Film Festival version as "only" 135 minutes, according to my watch we got the 163 minute version that was shown at Cannes. The presenter also warned us 3 times before the screening that anyone with epilepsy should leave the theatre due to the flashing lights in the film. She was quite serious about that.

I was a bit apprehensive prior to the start of this movie. I didn't "get" 2001 at all the first time I watched it and I positively hated David Lynch's ERASERHEAD. Would I enjoy ENTER THE VOID? Understand it? Walk out before the end? Yes, yes and no.

The film opens with Oscar and Linda, siblings from the United States living in Japan, looking out at Tokyo from an apartment balcony. It quickly becomes obvious that Oscar is both a drug dealer & addict while his sister works as a stripper. Their tragic family history is revealed in segments throughout the first hour. The entire film is seen from Oscar's perspective, either as: (1) First-person, shaky camera, blurry shots as Oscar walks around Tokyo, very high on drugs (2) An out-of-body experience where Oscar floats around the city observing Linda's life and the people that interact with her (3) Flashbacks to Oscar and Linda's youth, similar to (1) except that here we always see the back of Oscar's head in the shot rather than "through his eyes" (4) A surprise at the climax of the film.

Number (1) above may sound nausea-inducing to some, but there's usually interesting dialogue to distract you from the disorienting visuals and these scenes only comprise a small percentage of the total screen time. Technique number (2) could have been Oscar-worthy if it was filmed for a less controversial movie. Floating and spinning above the city of Tokyo and watching various dramas unfold from up above is absolutely incredible. You'll spend so much time watching from this perspective that it's easy to get lost in the images and forget what an incredible technical achievement you're observing.

Virtually all of the key plot elements occur within the first 90 minutes of the film. After that the film transforms into more of a psychedelic, visual experience while the story fades away. This phase of the film really tested my patience and I started to check my watch frequently but there were enough eye-popping scenes that I'm sure I'll view this a second time someday. The momentum returns during the final 10 or 15 minutes, and although this final phase is simply a logical conclusion of what had been blatantly foreshadowed earlier, it's nonetheless amusing and incredible to watch the taboo-breaking finale.

This film is very unique, disorienting and absolutely incredible & unforgettable. I can definitely understand why it's been compared to 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY, but I found ENTER THE VOID to be more accessible and more comprehensible during my first viewing. It's too controversial and too bizarre to appeal to most people, but it will undoubtedly find its niche as one of the greatest cult classics of all-time.
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Relentlessly Nauseating Modern Art
radioheadrcm4 October 2010
Enter the Void is exactly the kind of polarizing film that cinema needs right now. Too many films these days play it safe, being concerned with keeping the audience comfortable, safe and happy. Enter Gaspar Noe, who clearly has no regard either for the well-being of either the audience or his actors. We have antagonistically long (but brilliant) takes, beginning in an apartment and ending in a bar, several blocks over. We are given characters and are exposed to their darkest moments, but are never given a real reason to care for them, or to perceive them as anything but wretched. We are also shown some sexually discomforting things that we never really wanted to see on the silver screen (if you've seen it you probably know what I'm talking about). Also, the film is almost completely in first-person viewpoint, so you're constantly feeling confined to what Oscar is looking at, which are mostly psychedelic images. In effect, the feel and tone of the story are immediately off-putting for the viewer, but since you've already bought a ticket, what can you do but follow it through?

This is definitely the kind of film that can be approached in the wrong way, both with the medium that you view it through, and with your state of mind. Enter the Void is meant to be a transportive film (i.e. you living directly in the viewpoint of another, and feeling how that person feels, and perhaps even thinking how that person thinks). To technically maximize the experience, the film should really be experienced on the big screen. I'd imagine an IMAX screen to be ideal.

I also think a film like Enter the Void really needs to be approached with a separate set of goals than that of a normal film. First of all, chuck any notions of entertainment, or even enjoyment, out the window. While you're at it, remove any notions of positivity that you can think of. The only reactions that Enter the Void will draw from you are negative ones. Personally, the only emotion I consistently felt was a slight nausea, tinted with the occasional horror, or perhaps a shameful arousal, as there is excessive sexual content that is all wretched in one way or another.

The film is shot with a certain frame of mind, and sticks to it with remarkable faith. It's in the point of view of a small group of friends who are confined to the drug and clubbing scenes in Tokyo. He then films them in the most abrasive ways possible, showering the viewer in infinite neon lights, and fish-eyed close-ups, and then Noe lets his frames linger on these unsightly images for uncomfortably long. Even with his tracking shots moving from one location to another, when the viewer is normally given a moments rest, he rapidly cuts across hallways, stairs, and streets, and never gives the viewer a free moment to settle down.

Despite the film's antagonistic feel, and despite the physical and psychological discomforts that the film drew from me, I still found Enter the Void to be a worthwhile and even inspirational experience. More to the point, Enter the Void may not be a friendly experience, but this exact kind of experimentation and determined expression are just what cinema needs in order to be taken seriously as an artistic medium, when so many other directors air on the side of caution and safety. It might be a difficult ride, but just watch it once and you'll carry it with you forever.
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A good film in desperate need of editing
sharkies695 August 2010
Saw this at the Melbourne International Film Festival. Whilst I didn't enjoy Noe's first film I Stand Alone, I loved Irreversible.

There is lots to like about ETV and much to dislike as well. An hour into the film and I would have given it perhaps an eight or nine but by the end of the film I was frustrated. Why? Noe just can't help himself and you get the feeling he either didn't know how to end the film or simply just wanted to be shocking for the sake of it.

Visually, I couldn't help but be impressed. Some amazing shots, lighting (strobe) and editing techniques. Noe also mixes up the story well as he did in Irreversible. You are not spoon fed the story and I love the way he told the back story of the two leads.

Plenty of people walked out at the screening after the hour and forty minute mark and I couldn't blame them. Probably not because they were shocked but just bored and frustrated. Noe pads this out and it is such a shame as overall it ruined the film as a whole.

The acting is quite wooden and doesn't ring true but that is only a minor quibble when compared to the film's bloated running time.

Hard to fault Noe for his creativity, energy and style and refusal to follow norms in terms of narrative structure etc. Still, I wish a friend or colleague had tapped him on the shoulder or given him some constructive criticism about the last half of the film.

I can only imagine how much footage Noe might add into a Directors Cut - Lord help us. Perhaps he could learn some lessons from this and streamline his storytelling and not feel the need to bludgeon the audience just for the sake of it.
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Crazy, but technically brilliant!
chaaa14 September 2010
In a nutshell, Gaspar Noe's often exasperating but always visionary Enter the Void follows a man on his journey from his last hours on earth, through his death and his journey into the afterlife. The first twenty minutes or so follows Oscar as he takes a hit of DMT (a very potent hallucinogen) and goes on a visually arresting, if slightly over-long trip. He then leaves his house to give his friend a stash of drugs he owes him only to be chased and shot by police when he gets there. From there, his death and afterlife mirrors the philosophies behind the Tibetan Book of the Dead which theorises (I'm sure I'm putting this very crudely) that one's soul floats around, watching the world without them until they figure out how to leave their old life behind and move on. To recommend this film to audiences is perhaps a wrong turn, as it is bound to strike most as indulgent, immoral, needlessly vulgar and uncomfortable (particularly in Oscar's tendency to watch his sister having sex whenever possible). However, with suitably forewarning, this is a film that any self-respecting cinephile should make a point of seeing, and especially on the big screen.

Noe proved with Irreversible that he was a technical genius and that his eye for original visuals knows no bounds. He also proved that he wasn't afraid to shock his audience and has quite the nasty streak running through his stories. In both visual content and shock factor, Irreversible was merely a precursor to his magnum opus Enter the Void. With an endless stream of nasty images and depressingly dead-eyed unpleasantness, it is difficult to feel anything for any of the characters, but none of this dampens the impact of Noe's probing, soaring, spectral camera as it floats in and out of lives and deaths. I don't know if it has ever been done before but the camera-as-spirit conceit is highly effective and one which puts a very interesting moral spin on the voyeurism of this film. Noe takes voyeurism to extreme, as Oscar's spirit jumps in and out of bodies in often very unusual and even shocking circumstances.

The trouble with Enter the Void is that it is difficult sometimes to know whether to laugh or be shocked. Some of the content is pretty outrageous and even quite silly. However, for every roll of the eyes, there is a gasp of astonishment in terms of the intensity of the cinematic experience. Having now seen this film twice (it premiered at JDIFF 2010 in February), I must say I was pleased to see some superfluous scenes towards the end cut out, giving the film a somewhat more streamlined effect.

Your tolerance for Noe's self-indulgence will most likely decide your level of enjoyment of this, a film I imagine will very much divide audiences, but it is at the very least a visual milestone that should be seen on as big a screen as possible (though somehow I can't see this one gracing Screen 1 in the Savoy anytime soon). A flawed piece, but one flooded with moments of genius.
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Ambitious, deeply mystic and provocative movie with earth-shattering FX
Gaspar Noé's big beast of a Cannes entrant showed for the first time in the UK this week in October. Gaspar Noé was there to introduce the film, which was a great kick for me, even though he didn't do a Q&A. His intro was quite funny, because he's not a grand intellectual, he's more of a sensualist. It's clear that he had a pretty dissipated youth and he talked about his experimentation with hallucinogenics and he always wondered as a kid why nobody was making movies with the images like he was seeing whilst high in them. So this is a movie I think he's wanted to make for a very long time, perhaps a couple of decades, but only now has he been able to get the freedom and funding to do it.

He said he had seen the film Lady in the Lake after taking a magic mushroom; this is a 1947 Raymond Chandler adaptation which is shot in POV (that is, the camera is like the eyes of the lead). Gaspar had also been reading about life after death experiences, or near death experiences. So he wanted to combine the hallucinations, POV shooting, and out-of-body experience material. The result is 2 hour and 43 minutes of masterpiece. It will leave the ciné-gourmand gorged and bewildered. For me it's a clear step-up, even an evolution, from his last feature film in 2002, Irréversible. The idea of having out-of-body experiences really frees up the concept of POV, Noé's not limited by the body (which can't just glide forty feet into the air, or halfway across the city). He's really freed up to shoot the fluorescent sexual labyrinth of Tokyo, which is shot only at night-time and in POV.

The story in the movie concerns a brother and sister (Oscar and Linda) who have a childhood trauma and end up moving to Tokyo in their late teens where they become involved in a heaving underworld. I think though that Tokyo is more of a metaphor in this film, I don't think he's trying to tell you anything about Tokyo the city per se, I think it's just the perfect pre-fabricated set for Noé. In the film it's a nerve centre, it's that place in life where we meet lovers, copulate, produce new life, and die. It's the mayfly (order Ephemeroptera, from the Greek for short-lived) part of the human lifecycle, which we experience in a heightened fashion through the eyes of Oscar.

There's a lot of stuff in here for you to take offence to if you want, If you have ever taken offence to a film on content grounds as opposed to intellectual grounds, you're likely to take offence here. Pornographic linkages between adult sexuality and the Oedipus complex, for me are brilliant, but will upset many filmgoers.

Those people who have decided that Noé is homophobic or misogynistic after seeing Irréversible are not going to have their minds changed by this movie at all. There seems to be a very strong link in his mind between sex and procreation. You don't have to consume the movie in a homophobic way in my opinion, but there may be a lot of upset gays after seeing this movie. Particularly as the gay character in this movie is portrayed as being on the same level as the rapist in Irréversible. There's no direct comment, but if you read between the lines, you may not like what you read.

I think the androphiles are going to love Nathaniel Brown who plays the lead teen, Oscar, in this movie, which is his first credited role on IMDb, straight as I am, even I can tell he's a heartthrob. Paz de la Huerta as Linda, his sister, is very eye candyish too. If you like to see beautiful things writhing (we're talking eye popping next level FX hallucinations here, as well as copious sex), then this is the movie for you.

I walked out of the cinema still tripping, the POV is so spectacularly well delivered that you feel almost like you're still in the movie when you come out, because the mode of perception hasn't changed.

The lasting images I am left with are from the Love hotel, a very strange pastel and fluorescent building that has holo-reflectors design on the outside and which Noé dedicates a lot of the later part of the movie to, the FX emanations are spectacular.
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Astounding and infuriating all at the same time!
kentuckyfriedpanda4223 August 2010
Where to start? I saw this film nearly a month ago at Melbourne International Film Festival. I haven't quite been able to shake it from my brain since! Firstly, let's get the negatives out of the was. The film is at least an hour to long and, especially in the latter half, at times ridiculously self-indulgent.

However, as a whole, the film has this dreamy, hallucinogenic quality that absolutely entranced me. I admire and respect "Irreversible" a great deal; however, the at times raw emotional quality of "Enter The Void" struck a greater chord with me as a viewer. I love the scene where Linda finds out Oscar has died. One of the best uses of selective focus I've seen in film in a very long time.

This is a film that demands to be seen in a cinema. Noe's command of sound and vision is truly astounding to behold. On both a physical and psychological level, he really gets you into the heads of the characters. Apparently, Noe spent two years planning the camera-work on the film. This sense of attention to detail definitely shows in the finished product. A month after seeing the film, moments and images of it are burnt into my brain.

I will be the first to say that "Enter The Void" is absolutely an acquired taste and definitely not for everyone. However, if you have the mind and sensibilities for it, I can't recommend it enough. While not as deeply disturbing as "Irreversible", it is,in many ways, infinitely more challenging.

I have always loved films that can push me, provoke me and take me somewhere I have never been before. "Enter The Void" does all three. I can honestly say that, in all my years of watching films, I have never seen anything quite like it.

Can't wait to see what Noe does next. This film proves he is truly an artist in all senses of the word.
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Big Big WoW!!!
blackledgec11 February 2013
Warning: Spoilers
I have come to realise that this film isn't for everyone. People will either love it or hate it. The opening credits are horrible with the whole strobing look going on. However one mustn't be fooled by this as a sign that the film will irritate throughout. Gasper, in my view is nothing short of being a cinematic genius. The concept alone is worthy of labelling him as such.

It is unique, a one off. Sure there have been films done in the past of a person's spirit "letting go" experience (Ghost & Sixth Sense spring to mind straight away). But this is the first film that I've watched where it feels incredibly real and in some ways coldly realistic. Where ghost tries to pull at the heart strings, enter the void makes you think. It makes you think about the harsh everyday world that we live in.

Hollywood is nowhere to be seen in this film. Sure there's a "it turned out OK in the end", ending. But the journey to get there was a stark one. I myself prefer this approach. The bird's eye view won't be for everyone and neither will it's semi-non linear story line. Some people will dislike the sex scenes and the rather less pleasant characters. Some will even have a problem with the length of the film. But being a Kubrick fan allows me to relish in this sort of film. It is an early 21st Century masterpiece. As Space Odyssey was a 20th Century masterpiece. Neither film was to be a commercial success, but both are in my blu-ray collection.

It would be fair to say I love Enter the Void. I will watch it again and again. Some of the best films ever made can only oddly be described as fascinating. This is one of those films.
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Trippy & dreamy, but be sure you're prepared
larry-41124 September 2009
I attended the International Premiere of "Enter the Void" at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. Fans of director Gaspar Noé, whose film "Irreversible" created a significant following, will not be disappointed. At two and a half hours long, this film is definitely not for everyone. But I knew that going in and got exactly what I'd hoped for and more. It's trippy, dreamy, and mesmerizing and left me shaking my head in wonder many times. Startling and risky performances punctuate the dazzling visuals. The biggest surprise for me: "Enter the Void" has much more of a narrative than I was expecting. I was prepared for a cinematic acid trip, which I got, but there is an actual storyline which threads through the experimental camera-work and effects which are at the heart of the film. I highly recommend this movie but with qualifications, though. There is a great deal of drug use and some explicit sex but the film is compelling.
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The intellectual's 'Inception' - a 'Now I've seen it all' death trip back to life
Radu_A13 December 2010
So what could I add to what has been stated in the other reviews? Yes, 'Enter the Void' is definitely a trippy mindbuster, and as such anyone who requires story or frames to enjoy a film should give it a miss. Yes, the visuals are eye-popping and the ubiquitous stroboscope effects may cause severe nausea - I watched it on BR and couldn't help but thinking what an advantage home entertainment can be over cinema exposure. This is a film which may be best enjoyed alone, somewhat stoned or drunk, and very late at night. And the pause button is definitely a life-saver.

I can sympathize with those who felt tormented by the epic runtime and disparity between the first and second half of the film: the former is sort of a 'last film' of the protagonist Victor retelling his life, and therefore makes sense plot-wise, the latter is a meandering flow representing his attachment to his sister. It is a bit unfair to discard the film for this reason, though, because the dialogue between Victor and his best friend Alex in the beginning hints at what the nature and culmination of this attachment will be. The interspersed aerial shots of an increasingly CG-rendered Tokyo may actually put this transition into question - this could all very well be part of Victor's 'death trip'.

What I really liked about 'Enter the Void' is the setting, for I have lived in Tokyo myself for three years. The area where the story takes place (judging from where the CG puts the Tokyo Tower) should be Roppongi, which is an expat and night club haven; while the CG makes the place appear a bit gaudy, it is indeed populated by a disproportionate number of drop-outs and sleazy bees, and I've always wondered why there's no film about Roppongi yet - contemporary Tokyo is mostly condensed to the Yakuza backdrop of Kabukichô or the juvenile epicenter of Shibuya. So on that note, I appreciate a film about the expat world, as weird and dysfunctional as it may be.

'Enter the Void' pushes the gates of what film can visually do visually wide open, and therefore shouldn't be dismissed by any cinephile. But your viewing conditions will be crucial to whether you will love this film or hate it.
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A neon ride into the grown up world
WhatWhat19122 November 2009
This was my first film at the Stockholm Film Festival, I don't mean to brag but Gaspar Noé got to use my umbrella when the reporters took photos of him in the rain, never going to touch that umbrella again...

First I have to say "Enter The Void" technical masterpiece. The use of the camera is creative and splendid and makes the whole movie as a roller coaster ride. The special effects are really, really special. I got hooked on these technical superiority's in "Enter The Void" that I got all thrilled down my spine. Watching it at the cinema really gave it an incredible touch. The sound was ear piercing and in some scenes it made me jump in the seat. It could go almost half and hour without any dialog, just remarkable scenes and CGI. You could think by this description it's a joyful and happy movie, but it's really not. It's dark, sea bottom dark. This movie have everything all parents wants to keep away from their children. I just get the feelings this movie would get so censored in America it would be a whole other film when showed over the ocean. But censoring this movie is fatal and would kill it. I certainly hope everyone is going to get sucked into the void just as I did.

It was a great experience, I can't deny it, but what made me put an 8/10 was the length. Sometimes Gaspar really could have made some shots shorter, there were unnatural long phases that were totally unnecessary. So that's why I give it an eight. Other then that I see no faults in this masterpiece. Go watch as soon as it shows up in a cinema close to you.
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Johnny-one-note porn; morbid & trite
lor_22 February 2011
Gaspar Noe gets a free pass from film festival directors and apparently (judging from the IMDb sample reaction) ignorant film fans with his intentionally provocative works. I've seen this dreck before.

With ENTER THE VOID we have a typical case of a film (or video)-maker infatuated with some technique and then running it into the ground. The floating "omniscient" camera p-o-v is unleashed early in the film after the first-person hand-held camera gimmick wears thin, and the viewer must suffer through it for over two hours, when Noe is not cribbing from "the ultimate trip", Kubrick's 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY for his tedious light shows.

As a film buff old enough to have sat through 2001 several times in all its Cinerama glory, I can vouch for its trippy theatrical impact back in 1968; current fans do not have this opportunity so we don't have a fair appreciation of this masterpiece based on mere video screenings. Even given this advantage, Noe conjures here an ordinary rendering of the "cult of ugliness", making each shot pastel-pretty but with determined ugly = beautiful inversions. I would prefer an Abel Ferrara visit to the drug-infested gutter with his intrinsically gritty approach to Noe's SFX hokum any day of the week.

The bland anti-hero Nathaniel Brown was poorly cast, a dull presence in those few shots when we actually see him, and his sidekick Cyril Roy is embarrassingly there just to deliver exposition. Even in the most rudimentary, improvised XXX porn, I can't recall having the film's premise "explained" to me the way Roy lays out in detail the reincarnation theme from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and then, sure enough Brown goes through the out-of-body post-death claptrap as described. Paz de la Huerta is the recent indie flavor of the month girl (see: Jarmusch), but her lack of acting ability is evident, especially in her freakout scene here. In castng this eye candy role, anybody (read: any body) will do.

For porno content, Noe delivers considerable footage, none of which has the impact of real porn. Especially when compared to the work of Phil Prince, Joe Davian and other New York City pornographers of the '70s and early '80s, when s&m/b&d dominated (pun intended) porn features for a while, all fully documented on DVD reissues. Glamorizing then debunking the ecstasies/perils of the druggie life style is such an old hat concept in filmmaking that I'm surprised anyone gave Noe any credit for this rehash.

Parting shot: the infamous "penis entering vagina" shot in ENTER THE VOID is a corny ripoff of pornographer Luca Damiano, who has used this effect in numerous '90s porn videos, any one of which is more entertaining than VOID. Check out his EROTIC ADVENTURES OF RED RIDING HOOD for a prime example.
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New Generation Underground Movies Get A New Void.
vikram-ry12312 February 2011
I watched that movie last night. I was waiting for the end but the story reversed in abstract sequences again and again. The scene's clustered into cores to continued the hole story in a wild manner. Simply I can't leave it. "Psychedelic" would be the word to describe such beautiful title. In some sense I was getting confused but it was so simple to understand SEX MONEY POWER and LOVE. I scared of some ugly truth filmed like 'brutal' 'mental' 'torture'. Although I was addicted by its notions.

Cinematography is like playing a game with the camera and lights. I feel, I am inside the void loosing my control after taking drugs. Director can cut some frequent street and room shifting scenes that make no-sense at all. The movie is very lengthy. Overall it is a masterpiece..

I think it is not important to rate "Enter The Void". The title is suitable for 10/10 and 10/10. A masterpiece is a masterpiece... A personal thanks to the director Mr. Gaspar Noé. You kicked everyone's ass in your project.
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Gaspar Noe's masterpiece...
uglyzombie27 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Patience. It's something that's quickly eroding at the dawn of my generation. I do not mean this as a criticism. Times change. But in our age of accessing information so quickly, we can often find ourselves just "getting to the point" these days. I will start off by saying that this film requires patience. While you may actually get the point of this movie rather quickly, the ride itself is a long winded sermon about the sanctity of life itself.

"Do you believe in reincarnation?" is the setup of the entire concept of what could be considered Noe's magnum opus. The driving force here is that procreation is driven by empathy. The need to connect with someone on the deepest level to create life.

It is filmed entirely from the perspective of Oscar, the film's protagonist, who dies unexpectedly from a series of unfortunate events. What follows after is a deeply personal journey of his spirit's observations post-life. He must witness the humanity of those he loves most, laid bare. His willingness to forgive these transgressions ultimately leads to his rebirth, and the fulfillment of his promise to his sister.

While Noe's films can be considered very personal in a way, and deal with taboo that we often stride over with rapidity, it serves well for those willing to receive it. If one were willing to give these ideas a chance, and explore them with said patience, they'll find something in a film that very few directors can provide us today... life itself. While such introspection can cause discomfort in those that expect merely escapism from a film, here provided is an introspective and soulful existentialism that dives deep into the nature of human forgiveness and retribution.

A film that is beautiful visually, musically, and humanely. I guarantee that you will not experience another film like it, and it will resonate for some time.
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I hope the shorter American release version has less of the back and forth flying sequences because they utterly stop the film dead.
dbborroughs12 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I saw the NY premiere of the directors cut last night and all I can say is I was extremely disappointed.

This is the story of Oscar, who along with his sister Linda are living in Tokyo. While Linda goes off to her job as stripper Oscar stays home to get stoned. When his friend Victor calls wanting his share of the drugs that they are to sell together Oscar goes off to The Void bar, Unfortunately Victor has set Oscar up and he ends up dead. From that point on we watch as Oscar looks over his life and friends from the other side.

Told in a POV style (with an annoying blink during the living scenes) we see everything from Oscars POV. This allows for some trippy visuals as we see what he does during his drug trip. Some of this material is some of the most amazing visuals put on film and it needs to be seen on a big screen. Unfortunately we also get seemingly endless shots of flying over the city, through walls, over roofs, down every street that Oscar travels going from place to place. The monotony is of it is deadening especially at a length that is 20 minutes short of three hours.

As a fan of the director I have admired his ability to shock his audience and to make us think. Unfortunately his power to shock is missing as the most jarring scenes are the ones that repeatedly show a loud violent car crash. The shock comes from the noise and not the image or ideas. Indeed even an abortion and a lots of graphic sex fail to get a rise because they are weakly handled.(actually the sex with its glowing genitals had some of the people around me laughing hysterically) Noe's ability to make his audience think is also gone with most of the points about the cycle of rebirth and Oedipal desires in sex being unoriginal and seeming to have come from a highlight postcard of interesting ideas and a fudged synopsis of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.

In fairness to Noe, had the film not been so long, thanks to the endless travel sequences, this might have been a great film, but the over length and monotonous imagery sink the film. (I'm hopeful that the shorter American version actually corrects this.) If you have any interest in the film do see it on a big movie screen since the visuals, which are often amazing, will be best served. (And the opening credits will knock your socks off. The audience last night gave them a sustained ovation) Personally This is an interesting misfire that has left me wondering if Noe has lost his ability to really tell a story since all his films since Irreversible have been severely lacking.

Almost a good movie.
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david-833-42093113 November 2010
This is a classic case of a director trying way too hard to be creative or artistic and failing miserably. He attempted to overcome an extremely weak script by replicating visual and sound techniques used by talented artists like Kubrik, David Lynch and Darren Aronofsky. Be assured, he doesn't come close. Anybody who describes this film as psychedelic obviously hasn't seen true psychedelic experimental films. Seven minute sequences of kaleidescope imagery is not psychedelic, its boring, uncreative and cheap to produce. This looks like a very bad student film from a low budget school. I could have edited this film into a decent 15 minute short. As a feature, its just a 2 hour waste of time.
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Painfully dull.
theseus3214 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
First a caveat. I'm not in to "modern" art. To me, the difference between "Art" and "Crap" is that one takes skill and mastery of a medium, the other takes a gimmick. Take a wild stab at which one this movie is.

Here's the entire plot. Kid is a drug dealer. Kid gets shot. Suddenly, ORGY! Kid's sister gives birth to kid.

Over 2 hours and 40 *explicative deleted* minutes. Any time a movie can have two and a half hours removed from it and lose nothing in the translation, IT ISN'T A GOOD MOVIE.

inb4 "Oh the visuals!" screw you. This self-important ass isn't doing anything that Hertzog didn't do 60 years ago, better.

I will give the director/writer this. It's probably a very accurate depiction of what death is like. It's certainly a fairly accurate depiction of what being high is like. The problem comes from this. Death is amazingly dull. I mean dear lord, I was actually watching the clock on this because I wanted it over that badly. Filming someone waiting in line at airport security for 3 hours might be accurate too, but it's not worth watching! Even if you throw neon in there! In fact, that's actually a really excellent analogy. This movie is functionally identical to watching someone in Airport Security at McCarran airport in las Vegas. There are blinky flashy lights, part of you thinks that it may just be cool... and then it GOES ON FOREVER. And then you get to where you're going and an orgy breaks out.

Seriously, I laughed out loud at that point. The problem isn't the symbolism, I get all of that. The problem is the complete lack of purpose to it. Our disembodied cameraman of a hero learns nothing, accomplishes nothing, and changes nothing. And again, while that may be what reincarnation would really be like, it's painfully dull to watch.

I mean maybe watching it high gives off all sorts of deeper meaning, but you can say the same thing for an audio visualizer. Doesn't mean it warrants nearly 3 hours of screen time. The entire time I kept waiting for something to happen. Anything. But nothing does. At all. And then you think, "Oh! Wait! What's this? Actual drama? NO! Just more flashy lights! Oh well."

Any movie that ends with me screaming profanity at the screen is probably doing it wrong. This movie is a pure rip-off of The Seventh Seal, just with all the acting, plot, tension, and interest removed.

Watching paint dry would be more exciting.

+1 star for actually managing to be engaging for the first 30 minutes or so. Director should have quit while he was ahead.
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Great technique, but bad film.
doug-69716 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Enter the Void follows a young, American drug dealer in Japan who is shot dead and chronicles his earliest childhood and then continues after his death and the effect his death has on his sister.

The entire movie is shot from the first person perspective of the young man both before and after his death. After his death, we are viewing everything as his ghostly spirit hovering just above everyone, but just below ceiling height. Apparently ghostly spirits must hover this way, they can't hover at the eye level of the living. This is unfortunate, because If they could hover at eye-level it would solve the biggest problem of the movie.

The effect of shooting a scene from above separates the audience from the characters. It takes us out of the action and makes us viewers instead of participants. So once the movie moves to the perspective of the spirit you no longer feel the emotions of the characters. When you see his sister hearing the news of his death you feel more like a voyeur and don't really feel for her suffering. Since much of the movie follows him as a spirit you spend most the time admiring the technique of the film rather what is happening to the characters.

This could be something that you'd enjoy watching, but it's not really a movie. You go to a movie for the same reason you read fiction, to involve yourself in the people. Enter the Void is an experimental project, not a movie.

There are some other problems. It is very long. Also, while all of it is shot in the streets of Tokyo, don't expect to see much of the city. So much of the film is blurry and the camera shakes around so much, that you see very little. The characters, while sympathetic are not overly interesting. The good would be the acting, which is excellent, but the acting is betrayed by the film's technique.

There is interesting stuff in Enter the Void, but as a film it fails utterly.
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Stunning and beautiful....but infuriating
pete_hatchetharry16 December 2010
This movie starts out in a style unlike most and you feel drawn into Tokyo and the flashing lights, as you see life from the point of view of our hero Oscar. A young Englishman with an unhealthy hallucinogenic drug habit living with his sister. He has earned enough money to bring her back to his side in Japan through dealing.

During the first 90 minutes we are treated to a hallucinogenic trip through Oscars eyes before he departs with his friend Alex to drop drugs off at the local club. We see drama unfold and enjoy the telling of our hero's childhood with his sister before another shock. Cleverly told through flashbacks the story is both intriguing and interesting as we examine their lives together and the effects of their actions. The visuals are amazing and the effects of flying from one scene to another are at first fantastic and dreamlike. However as you drift slowly from one scene to another you can only feel infuriated and frustrated at the plodding between the plot.

Still enthralled to find out what will eventually happen I found myself fast forwarding through the last 60 minutes to the story bits. I was rewarded with some scenes of bizarre debauchery in the Love Hotel before the story finale.

Having loved being shocked by 'Irreversible' I enjoyed 'Enter the Void' but was frustrated at the overdoing of the visual trips flying over and through buildings for maybe 60 minutes of the 175 minutes. If you don't mind chilling out (possibly with some chemical inducement to help) and just watching a visual masterpiece with a great story interlaced within it this movie is for you. Otherwise just have the fast forward button at the ready. Drug taking, gore, sex, and bizarre but true life acts, combine in a dream like story of life and a vision of death and fantasy. Id give this movie 8 out 10 if it were cut to a more reasonable length.
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Out Of Your Body And Into The Fire
loganx-26 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Enter The Void is the story of Oscar a late teens early twenty something drug dealer living in Tokyo. Oscar lives with his estranged sister Linda, after the two were orphaned by a car crash as children.

The film opens with some brief introductions, including introducing Oscar to his drug of choice DMT (which is described as being similar to the experience of death), of which Oscar has become obsessed since reading the Tibetan Book Of The Dead.

The interest in near death experience as "the ultimate trip" grows like so many of Oscars desires, fears, and fantasies from his parents death, an event which plays out again and again the film; as a traumatic scar that never closes, even in death.

After a six minute trip full of spiraling layers of shapes, patterns, and what look like deep sea fish in a fluorescent microscope, Oscar is abruptly shot to death in the bathroom of a bar called "The Void", whereupon his soul leaves his body floating sideways into the night sky, through walls, and even into other people's bodies.

The film is divided into four parts, the first Oscar's death told in 1st person pov, the second Oscar's life leading up to his death where we observe the back of Oscar's head within the frame, the third the lives of those affected by Oscar's death shown through over the shoulder ariel shots of Oscar's soul as it flys over the city, and the final a trip through the "Hotel Love" a partially imaginary place where all the film's characters have sex with each other in the various red tinted rooms while their genitals are surrounded by phosphorescent hallows of undulating color.

"Enter The Void" is a character study but one of a character who is at a point in his existence when "personality" simply is no longer an issue.

The second portion of the film showcases some of Gaspar Noe's talent as editor as it's essentially a sustained stream of conscious montage (like something you would find a New Wave film from Alain Resnais) creating a network of desires from Oscar's mother's death to his guilt over abandoning his sister, to an affair with an older women (which directly causes his eventual death), from the earliest notions of Freudian pleasure suckling at his mother's breast to his later day oral obsessive drug habit (smoking, pills, etc), his destruction is built into his desires and back again, many times over.

Noe goes through pains, some would say to the point of destroying the film with repetition to stress these points, as George Bataille transformed eggs and urine from emblems of his own traumatic childhood into obsessive erotic rituals for his character's to live out in his own French transgressive classic "Story Of The Eye", so does Noe reveal his wounded characters with reoccurring images of a car crashed and lips reaching for an exposed breast (If your recalling Cronenberg's "Crash" your not mistaken).

Some have accused the film and Noe of being obsessed with the ugly side of life; abortion, murder, drug use etc. And this would almost pass did the film not end in literal rebirth (certainly the most optimistic end of any Noe film so far). Likewise the film has been called "nihilistic", ignoring that the existence of the soul and reincarnation are tangible aspects of the plot, or that said "rebirth" taking place in the "love" hotel, where sex makes everyone glow like angels.

I suspect the mistaken attribution of nihilism to the film stems from this lack of any non-Earthbound transcendence. The same lust that lead Oscar to his death, lead his soul into a new body, and the Karmic keeps on-a-spinning with no end in sight.

Oscar spends most of the third acts trying to avoid floating into sources of light, which the camera is pulled into the way light is sucked into a black hole, the image warping and bulging at the seams as it descends.

There was a time when leading critics like Andrew Sarris considered Kubrick's "2001" little more than trumped up hippie freak out cinema.

Ask yourself if it's vague ideas about human transformation and evolution wrapped in the Star-child; a fetus in the empty womb of space or it's ten minute psychedelic worm hole, are any more ridiculous than glowing sex angels and a water wall of ejaculate.

ETV is the kind of film you cannot be impartial to, it makes demands and challenges on the viewer. For anyone to not be impressed with its cinematography, editing, sound, and special effects they would either have to be disingenuous or incredibly narrow in their tastes. The psychological underpinnings of Oscar's motivations are repeated so many times, I'm almost lost for words when I read critics describe the film as incomprehensible.

By comparison to his previous films which featured 10 minute anal rape scenes, some unmanifested Oedipal desires in EVT are like a breath of fresh air in the sweatiest dankest leather gimp outfit.

EVT is less a surrealist film as it is neo-realism taken to its logical extreme where the interior geography of the subject is as meticulously recorded as his external environment.

"Enter The Void" may wear the temporal skin of a drug film, but beneath the veneer of fear and loathing, is a soul searing with inventive cinematic flair and a desire to push towards the limits of an art form, eroding boundaries between mental states as it straddles genre lines between psychedelic ghost story and perverse love story like "Wings Of Desire" hovering on the painted clouds of Stan Brakhage.

The void is full of wonders.
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Did they hear me? Did I scream? … Enter the Void
jaredmobarak19 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Words can seriously not describe the visually rich and assaulting epic tale of death and its aftermath of memories and spiritual travel that is Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void. Self-proclaimed as "weird" by the director himself at it's World Premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, (the print screened at Cannes was a work-in-progress), he says his attempt was to create a near death experience on film. So, with stunning imagery; fullscreen frames of solid bright color pulsating at epileptic seizure-inducing rates; extended moments of seamless cutting to make long passages appear to be one take; first person camera-work spliced from straight shots merging into fish-eye lens distortion; extreme close-ups, either computer generated or otherwise, appearing as though a fly filmed the entire thing while in flight; and just the maze-like electricity of downtown Tokyo at night, one must actually sit down and experience it, letting it wash over you, to fully appreciate the work. Noé is a genius of some kind, always on the fringes of the industry, appalling some, disgusting others, and written off by the rest, yet I can't genuinely say I'd recommend anyone seeing this movie. And therein lies the problem, if words can't describe it and I couldn't in good conscience send you to see it due to the extensive drug use, realistic sex scenes, and harrowing moments of graphic brutality, what else is there to do? It definitely is an important film to the industry, though, just in the technical prowess on display. Noé has an eye for cinema, utilizing who knows what for shots that I've never seen before. He said after the screening that a lot of post-production was necessary to craft every moment into the piece of art he finished with. Aerial shots of the cities were recreated with computers, frames were meticulously darkened or lightened when needed, (the auteur is so specific and detail-oriented that when the film ended he came up and said he'd never seen it so dark, the projector must be different than his, but what could he do?), and the giant phallus that is mentioned everywhere when speaking of the movie is an interesting moment because there is no way you could put a camera where it would be needed to capture that shot. There are religious underpinnings laid throughout between a Buddhist book given to our lead Oscar to peruse or the issue of reincarnation and whether the soul traveling after his death was finding itself a new vessel to be reborn in or just a journey back, recalling his own conception. Noé mentioned that he wanted it to feel like the time he watched the Lady in the Lake on mushrooms; I can't say I've ever done hallucinogens, but I can imagine the feeling would be similar to watching this work.

There is so much to absolutely love as a cinephile here. The flashbacks to a time where Oscar and his sister Linda were in each others' lives, orphans after the horrific death of their parents, are shot with a filter to make them magically fairytale-like; the amount of crap crammed into each frame of the present, whether in Oscar's apartment, a nightclub bathroom of filth during a supposed drug dropoff, or the dressing room of Linda's strip club, or even the fictional "Hotel Love" made real in our dying spirit's vision from an elaborate model city shown to him some time before is immense; and the enhanced close-ups, again, are phenomenal—swooping up from an ashtray with a lit cigarette lying inside, burning and sizzling away … just gorgeous in a messed up way, much like a lot of things here. Speaking of the parents' death, what a sequence showing the car crash that took their lives. The sound is deafening, the truck's headlights coming straight for us as we watch it from the backseat, and the visceral, physical feeling of being rocked back yourself from the impact you cannot feel, it is seriously that effective. You become Oscar, transported into the movie to live through the chaos and turmoil. I'm liking the movie more and more as I write this essay, reliving the scenes and remembering how they grabbed me and threw me around … and yet I still don't know if I'll ever want to—or have the chance to—see it again. Do not expect this thing hitting a local multiplex any time in the near future; it's subject matter going way beyond your regular NC-17 flick.

I do not want to nitpick the acting, since it is such a small part of the ride, but you can't help notice the amateurish quality. Nathaniel Brown plays Oscar—who admittedly isn't in the film as a person you see very much, more so utilized as voice-over at the start—in a debut role. Listening to him speak, while looking out through his eyes, can be somewhat painful as his line delivery is awkward and not quite realistic. The second lead, Linda, is played by Paz de la Huerta, a friend of Noé who one must wonder whether she earned the spot due to her being okay with nude and sex scenes rather than her acting skill. Again, though, the performances come secondary to any other visual flourish shown as the people really just become pawns to be played with and shot within the atmospheric environments. But there is one riveting turn, by Emily Alyn Lind as young Linda in flashbacks, needing to be mentioned. Wow, is this little girl phenomenal. Her screaming, inside the car at the moment of the crash looking at her bloodied parents, or being taken away by a family from her brother for adoption, sent chills down my spine. So emotionally draining, I worry for the parents who let her act in a film like this, in a role so demanding, but can't deny the power she adds, literally being the best actor by far.
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Aoid the void...
brianthehedgehog15 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I actually enjoyed the first hour and a half of this film. It was different... A little over-indulgent for my regular cinematic taste, but a compelling story told in a truly original way.

But, and this is a MASSIVE but...then the second half of the film happened. This whole section of the film was completely unnecessary, had no narrative relevance whatsoever. It felt as if deleted scenes had been randomly tacked on to the end of the film; hammering home the "moral" of the film that had already been unsubtly explained throughout the first half.

Most annoying bits:

  • The CGI looked well at the beginning, but the "Schlong" shot? Really?

  • I could draw a map of Japan from memory with all those aerial panning shots.

  • 30 seconds to 1 minute shots in between EVERY scene might have been worth watching... if something was actually happening.

  • The scene in the LOVE hotel... sex=rebirth. I get it. I got the talk when I was a pre-adolescent. I do not need shiny lights emanating from ladies private parts to explain it to me visually.

I can say with all honesty that as it stands this is quite possibly one of the worst films I've ever seen. Which is a shame because if it was re-edited, I reckon it would be watch-able if not half-decent.
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Good for the first 1/2 hour, then went downhill with pure indulgence...
Michael Kenmore23 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
** Some spoilers, but nothing major **

I saw this film at Sundance Film Festival (at the famous Tower Theatre), and my expectation has been met. That Argentine-born French director Gasper Noe goes farther with more "artistic" freedom with each successive film.

I've seen I Stand Alone, which I thought reeked of absurd indulgence, and Irreversible, which is dazzlingly weird and morally perplexing. I give Monsieur Noe credit for being wildly unconventional and creative with bizarre cinematography and editing that accomplish the mood as intended. Like Kubrick, anyone is incapable of imitating Noe's style with fresh relevance to the meat of the otherwise simple story, because it's his unique style that stands out from hack works by other contemporary filmmakers.

Enter the Void is more of a director's film, because it's overlong (so long some tedium is felt (intended or not), and at least half an hour could be trimmed without losing story's essence; more on that later) and, because he could make a film to his specification as he pleases, base in artistic excess, audiences' plea for respect be damned.

From the opening credit, which is superbly creative (one of the best opening credit sequences I've seen), to the death of a protagonist to reminiscences to the reincarnation, it's a dazzling experience in one sitting, on only one condition. The condition is you have to bear the blunt of the unbelievably explicit sexual content with some profoundly disturbing thematic elements that will rankle your nerve on the philosophical question of ethics, values, mortality -- not to mention human sexuality.

In other words, you must be prepared to partake in the experience. I expected and it disturbed me to an extent, exactly as Noe intended. However, I think Noe went way too far with explicit sexual content that detract from the cinematic visual splendor and story. This film is borderline pornographic towards the ending, which is so discomforting and gross it's banal. For that reason I rate it low. Too indulgent for the sake of offending the audience's mores as maximally as possible.

I expect a story, not indulgence for the sake of art. Lengthy "Love Hotel" sequence -- 10 minutes long or so -- will be synonymous with sheer indulgence in "artistic excess," if that should convey a meaning. It's not art -- it's meaningless to point of obscenity.

The first half hour with the wild opening credit and protagonist's point of view in drug experience, interaction, and spirit traveling around with the screen filled entirely of rapid flashing lights for seconds, as well as impressive single-shot scene involving cinematic tricks for seamless POV, has merit in terms of worth seeing.

But when the scene involves the protagonist's sister in the dressing room at the nightclub, with a sleazy Japanese club owner, that's when the momentum begins to wear off and film progresses to never-ending disturbing crescendos; it continues for way too long that tests the audience's will and grit to tolerate the repetitive and disorienting flyovers and often indulgent scenes.

The measure of indulgence causes harm to the film's supposed artistic pretenses later. The more indulgent, the more it became absurd and tedious.

There is no doubt Enter the Void will be a hit as a cult film for the small audience because of weird drug scenes in POV, like when hippies would smoke marijuana to get baked while watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. A good artistic merit as we see what the point of view from a drug-induced mind is like.

But the film, overall, is simply too damn indulgent for its own good. It loses merit as a film that concludes with a gross intercourse POV scene leading to a ham-fisted metaphorical ending.

Certainly a pretentious and obscene film, and I'm sure the majority of native French people thought Noe is nuts for going too far with the realm of film-making as an art form. Because France led the cinematic movement with innovations and pleasant aesthetics in early 20th century, 21st century French film devolves to obscenity for art's sake to satisfy the artist's narcissistic curiosity to stretch the limitation of tolerance in the audience's mores, just like English painter Jenny Saville.

They try too hard to provoke because it's part of their ego -- the need to exist by pissing off people as many as can be, and still get some praise and derision. They specialize in polarization. Enter the Void fits this description like a glove, and Noe takes pride in extending art to the cutting edge of palpable obscenity as raw emotive art to guage our mores at visceral, spiritual, and moral level in an effort to mock mere respectable decency in common humanity.

If you want to protect your decent humanity, walk out when the aforementioned scene appear. It becomes nihilistic in undermining your belief in humanity, the way Noe intends because he doesn't care who and where you are. All that matters is how you perceive the world if the film will affect you. Those who are able to sit through the film with iron-clad stomach deserve being congratulated for tolerance, with individual humanity intact upon leaving theatre.

* 1/2 out of 4
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Self Indulgent
piggoleto28 February 2011
Warning: Spoilers
I've had gestation periods shorter and more interesting than this movie. These were dull people and exposure to them (and by them!)made them not a whit more engaging. This was like the 60's underground movie (maybe Andy Warhol)which is nothing more than a shot of a guy from the waist up getting an hour long blow job. The first ten minutes were scintillating, but it lost its charm thereafter. The photography reminded me of several seasons of unedited Twin Peaks shows run together; Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway photography was much crisper. I'm still scratching my head as to the purpose of the abortion scene, and the little sperm hitting that egg; a new low in trite. I just got past the birth scene, and not a minute too soon. From now on, I'M picking the Netflix films.
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A visually stunning, mind-bending film
vnvrymdreglage30 November 2010
Enter the Void finally made it to a week-long limited showing at a theater in Atlanta, so naturally a group of my close friends and I set out to see it for my friend's birthday.

Many people have criticized it for being too drawn out, too sexually explicit, and overly confusing for the sake of being trippy. I disagree with all these things and feel that, having experienced the world through psychedelics and having seen the dark kind of underground portrayed in this film, that its dreamlike, sinister, and scattered narrative is appropriate.

I also feel that it's a film that you really need to sit through and pay close attention to. It has a lot of very powerful and controversial messages to throw at the audience, and those easily offended might have trouble looking past this instead of understanding their place in the context of the story. After all, the end, to me, is beautiful and makes the rest of the film worth it.

As pretty much everyone seems to agree upon, the visual aspect of the film is just breathtaking. One particular scene toward the end is the best depiction of what the world looks like while tripping that I've ever seen. Beyond the psychedelic imagery, the whole movie is just pure eye candy.

In short, it may be challenging to some but if you really watch through it it's a phenomenally profound and rewarding journey that has you leaving the theater in a trance, pondering deep philosophical questions.
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Null and Void
Jonny_Numb6 March 2011
With each film, director Gaspar Noe aims to provoke, disorient, and even violate the viewer in some way; as a result, one gets the impression that he invites the vitriol of those who would slam his cinematic vision. Now, while I was compelled (if not "entertained") by the near-pornographic subjectivity of Noe's "I Stand Alone" (the tale of a sociopath butcher wandering around France with a whole lot of pent-up anger) and "Irreversible" (a backwards-unraveling tale of revenge and rape), "Enter the Void" is an agonizingly overlong tale of death and the Afterlife that mistakes neon-saturated, drug-trip informed imagery as a profound comment on a world beyond our own mortality. In its first half, "Void" manages to compel and intrigue, even if our grating and unsympathetic protagonists (a brother-and-sister duo living in Japan as a drug dealer and a stripper, respectively) do very little to make all the flashy neon seem like more than aesthetic window-dressing. At 90 minutes, "Void" is a passable (if largely empty) film, but as it crawls towards the 3-hour mark, it becomes obnoxious, intolerable, and infuriating (with Noe's pretentious excesses -- culminating in a literal orgy -- becoming the stuff of yawns rather than gasps).
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