Movie Review: Enter the Void [2009]

Enter the Void [2009]

Enter the Void [2009]
Director: Gaspar Noé
Genre: Drama/Thriller
Language: English
Country: France

Man, Gaspar Noé sure knows how to test an audience’s patience, doesn’t he?

Perhaps best known for 2002’s Irréversible, an incredibly disturbing portrayal of a rape and a murder, Noé has created another trying piece of work with 2009’s Enter the Void. At a sprawling and strung-out 161 minutes in length, ETV is not for everyone.

The movie follows a young drug-dealing American named Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) who is living in Tokyo. For the first 25 minutes or so, the movie shows Oscar’s life via a first-person point of view. This allows us to experience some pretty astonishing moments, particularly when Oscar takes a few hits of the powerful hallucinogen DMT. While Oscar is tripping, some batshit crazy visuals spin out of control on screen. Later, after snapping out of his quick but powerful trip, Oscar heads out to drop off some supply to a friend of his. The dropoff turns out to be a drug sting, and shit goes haywire from there. Oscar frantically tries to flush the drugs down a grungy toilet while the police surround him. He yells out that he has a gun, and the police instinctively shoot him from behind the door. At this point, Noé shows us his interpretation of death, as we watch Oscar leave his prone body, still from a first person point of view. This is all really powerful stuff, especially since it is all being seen directly through Oscar’s eyes.

Enter the Void [2009]

From this point forward, Oscar’s soul leaves his body and we now follow him through past and present as he experiences what is essentially the ultimate hallucinogenic trip. His soul looks back on his too-close-for-comfort relationship with his sister (Paz de la Huerta) and how they fended for themselves as orphans. He checks in on how his sister and his friend are coping with his death, and what ultimately becomes of his body.

During all of this, the streets of Tokyo are alive with pulsating and flashing lights. Ever wanted to experience an acid trip without actually taking the drug? Enter the Void may be your best bet. The lights are everywhere, often with vibrant colors that fill up the screen. This film is definitely not recommended for those sensitive to such visuals.

Enter the Void [2009]

In fact, Enter the Void is more of an audio/visual experience than anything. Between Gaspar Noé’s unique camerawork and Thomas Bangalter’s tense soundtrack, it is easy to get enamored with the spectacle of it all. Unfortunately, it seems little effort was made to provide much in the way of character depth and dialogue. These aspects are presented in a passable sort of way, but I feel that they could have been fleshed out more.

I was in awe for the first half of the movie, just sitting there while admiring the beautiful mindfuck happening before my eyes. Unfortunately, Oscar’s journey as a soul began to grow tedious after that point, and the movie dragged on a little too long. I regained interest during the ridiculous and sex-crazed final ten minutes, but that significant amount of time in between was more tiresome than anything. Only so much can be done with a concept like this, and Noé drove the point home a little too hard.

Still, even with its excessive run-time, Enter the Void is an experience unlike any other I have seen. Its almost as if Noé took the trippy sequence from 2001: A Space Odyssey and expanded it into a full-length feature, twisting it into his own distorted point of view. Enter the Void could have used some mindful editing, but it is an unforgettable adventure all the same.