ENTER THE VOID – Sundance Movie Review
ENTER THE VOID is the type of movie that I expect to see at Festivals, it’s really a artistic film that will not appeal to a broad audience, but to a small one. But that’s why I like going to Festivals, it exposes you to films you would have never seen otherwise.
Gaspar Noe’s film, Enter The Void takes place in Japan and tells the story of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a small time drug dealer, who after getting killed when a drug deal goes bad, finds himself in the inbetween in order to keep the promise he made his sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta), that he would never abandon her. He now wanders through the city, watching the people he knew, including Linda, his stripper sister, and Alex (Cyril Roy), his good friend. Oscar also goes on his own journey reliving his past, present, and future, which as the film progresses, all start to mix and merge.
There are so many things to say about Enter The Void, so I’ll try to take things in order.
First of all, this was the first movie I watched at the Sundance Film Festival and what a way to start the festival it was. There was lots of walkouts during the movie, which quite honestly I found really annoying, especially towards the end (I mean you’ve stayed this long, you really can’t watch another 15 minutes, really?). As outrageous and insane as the film was, I never wanted to leave, I wanted to find out how it all ended. And let me tell you it was quite a trip. Fun fact, Gaspar Noe, who stayed at the end for some Q&A, shed some light as to the end of the film, which turns out half the audience, including me, didn’t get the way it was meant to.
Now let’s talk about the film.
When the movie start, and prior to Oscar’s death, the film is shot through his eyes, literally, you even see him blinking, which is quite an interesting effect. You also hear his thoughts, and the only time you see his face is when he is looking at himself in the mirror.
If I remember correctly, there is also this one very long shot that starts out at Oscar’s apartment, takes him on the streets with his friend Alex, to The Void, a club where he gets killed. There is no cut during that whole time and it’s so well done that you don’t even notice it’s happening. Cyril Roy, who plays Alex, also shines in that scene, because he has this whole conversation with Oscar as they are walking to The Void, which really makes him stand out as an actor. I thought he was great.
Once Oscar dies, the rules of the game change. Even though we still see things through his POV, he is like a spirit, so that means a bird’s eye point of view (looking down at people as if he’s floating above them) and no more blinking or hearing thoughts.
At this point he starts navigating through places and walls looking at what his friends and family are doing. But that only lasts a little bit until we are taken back to his as a little kid.
And now again, the rules change. We now see Oscar’s life play out in front of our eyes with Oscar actually appearing in the scenes, but we only see his back the whole time. So we are still seeing things from his point of view, but it’s more external.
As we are shown his life, we find out all of his childhood dramas, including a very graphic car accident, which comes out of nowhere and smashes right in your face, literally. We also learn more about his relationship with his sister, which is a little bit incestuous.
After going through Oscar’s life, we go back to the present and to him as a spirit floating around and looking at his friends and family all the way to the end.
Now, the story might not sound that outrageous, but add lots of graphic depictions such as very graphic sex (especially at the end), an in your face car accident, a graphic representation of an abortion (seriously that one was messed up), to a close up of a penis thrusting inside a woman during the act of sex, and you get Enter The Void. On top of that add some crazy flashing lights transitions throughout the film, which would send any epileptic into an episode, and you get an idea of what watching Enter The Void was like.
I will admit though that I found it a little too long, 30 minutes less would have made it a lot better, but overall I didn’t get bored, which is always a good sign.
And finally, I can’t really give Enter The Void a rating, because I don’t think it’s the type of movie that you can rate. It’s really more of an experience and a director’s film than anything else, and even though I wouldn’t see it again, I am glad that I saw it. As for whether I would recommend it, well I would say that if everything that I mentioned previously didn’t turn you off, then you’re ready to Enter the Void.