Film buffs with hard stomachs may find Gaspar Noe’s work hard to swallow. Noe is famous for his unfiltered appreciation of taboo concepts such as on-screen drug use, gratuitous sex, and extreme violence. The best example I can offer is in an earlier film of his called “Irreversible,” wherein a man is bludgeoned to death with a fire extinguisher, and a woman is raped for ten minutes in a dirty alleyway. Granted, the victim was Monica Bellucci, it still doesn’t sit well with most viewers.
Gaspar Noe brings another offering to the counter-culture film community with “Enter the Void.” Set in the seedy red light district of Tokyo, Japan, a teenage drug dealer (Oscar) experiences the ultimate trip. Without spoiling the obvious plot turns, the film takes a unique stand on the concepts of life and death. It’s a disorienting invitation to an underworld most of us are better off not knowing about.
Oscar is violently removed from physical reality and forced to live on in a “metaphysical void.” He pulls us along, whether we like it or not, in a way that numbs and arrests the viewer. We are forced to feel his natural and synthetic highs that distort perception. Like a ghost, we watch the world react without having an influence. There are strong sexual undertones that hint to an oedipal complex, but again, Gaspar Noe is known for pushing those buttons.
What makes this film so profound to me is the point-of-view camerawork. You see through the eyes of the main character, Oscar, as he takes drugs and goes on elaborate hallucinations. He later looks at himself in the mirror and you see his hands move as if they were your own. This alone is an accomplishment in modern cinema. The camera eventually acts like a transient specter, flowing through and around the world Oscar knows, giving us a harsh look at his life (and death). Sometimes, I didn’t want to see, and other times, despite my better judgment, I couldn’t look away.
Prepare yourself for graphic, intense, and realistic experiences that will take a while to fade out of memory.