Gaspar Noé’s film Enter the Void is not for the faint of moviegoers. The story revolves around an estranged relationship of brother-sister, Oscar and Linda. At a young age they were separated due to a tragic accident resulting in the deaths of both parents, which forced the two children into separate lives of foster care. Flash-forward several years, these siblings finally reconnect in neon-lit Tokyo, Japan, where Oscar has established a livelihood of drug dealing. This is largely backstory that is interwoven throughout the film, leaving the rest of the story to develop from the fly-on-the-wall perspective of Oscar. This part of the story is ambiguous in that it’s unclear whether Oscar is experiencing an intense DMT trip or is in fact stuck within a metaphysical state brought on by his recent death or both.
Enter the Void explores a number of things all at once: the complicated and oddly sexual relationship between brother and sister, escapism (drugs and sex), complicated forms of affection, reincarnation (The Tibetan Book of the Dead). This combination results in a (I’m not kidding) visual hallucinogenic cocktail that leaves audiences pinching themselves out of reassurance that they themselves are not high.
This being a visual medium, one would ask themselves how can Gaspar Noé create a film without it appearing as an impenetrable Magic Eye image with an even more impenetrable storyline?
I can’t help but remember Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey with Dr. Dave Bowman’s still image wrapped in spectrum, reacting to the void of unknown, frightening the experience. Enter the Void is that experience. A film that doesn’t allow you the pleasure to stop mid-scene for a moment of explanation for the story will evanesce the moment you fight it. How does one get out of it? How does Oscar escape? How does Linda live? How does one watch such a film?
Review by Richard Thornell