Film Review: Enter The Void

23 March 2011

Enter The Void

Gaspar Noe – 18 – 143 mins

Arts Picturehouse

Enter The Void is psychedelic Marmite – you’re either going to leave the cinema disgusted or delighted. Actually, during the screening I attended several people did leave, but the people who stayed seemed to be impressed. One thing’s for sure: this is a film like no other.

Oscar and Linda, siblings who have sworn to stay together due to their traumatic past, barely get by in Tokyo, the former having become a drug dealer and the latter a stripper. These dysfunctional characters are unusual enough, but then we witness their story through Oscar reliving his past after he is shot dead in the Void nightclub.

The protagonist’s entanglements with other characters amidst the underbelly of Tokyo are shot consistently from his perspective; through his blinking eyes, from behind his head or from a bird’s eye perspective as his spirit soars over the monstrous neon metropolis.

It’s garish, gaudy, euphoric and explicit. The opening alone is in the form of an eyeball-melting strobe title sequence that epileptics definitely want to give a miss. Director Gaspar Noe claims to have been influenced by 2001: A Space Odyssey when crafting the film’s psychedelic style and it really shows.

Furthermore, Oscar’s protective big brother complex doesn’t just border on the incestuous; the line has been crossed. Freud would have a field day.

Noe is renowned for dismissing the celluloid status quo, having also master-minded the equally disturbing Irreversible. However, that film was much shorter. Clocking in at 143 minutes for the UK release, and even longer originally, not everyone will survive to the (admittedly life-affirming) end this time.

Enter the Void is either gratuitous exploitation or a work of genius. It’s not a film, it’s a trip, but I’m just not sure if it’s a good one or not.

Florence Smith Nicholls

Image: Trinity Filmed Entertainment