Enter the Void (Review)

ENTER THE VOID
(9/24/10; Drama)
Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy
SCR/DIR: Gaspar Noé
MPAA: Unrated
1 hour 48 mins
BOX: $336,467

Experimental film boldly breaks ground on several fronts, challenging the tenets of basic storytelling in a way that’s fresh and completely original. That said, it ain’t the happiest film ever. Noé has made three features – I Stand Alone (1998), Irreversible (2002) and Void – and every one has dared to push the boundaries in unconventional ways.

Void covers the life and death of Oscar, an American drug-dealer living in Tokyo. His sister Linda (de la Huerta) is a stripper and as much as she cautions Oscar early on about the dangers of his lifestyle (as well as an attempt at spirituality), she is powerless to change his fate. Oscar is murdered by the police and spends the rest of the film as a spirit revisiting his life.

What’s remarkable, not to mention damn near technically impossible, is the fact that the entire movie is told from Oscar’s first-person perspective, either looking out from his eyes or looking over his shoulder when in spirit form.

Noé loves to push an audience’s buttons, juxtaposing imagery to the point where it is jarring. At one point, the film cuts back and forth between a seedy sexual encounter and a loving moment between a topless mother and her young children. Enter the Void makes no apology for its brazenness and challenges its audience to surrender to nearly two hours of wicked head-trip imagery and throbbing sonics.

Completing it is a feat, but it’s worth the climb. Even if you don’t feel up to the challenge, watch just the opening credit sequence, a cinematic adrenaline rush of quick cutting and loud colors. For no other reason, you’ll be able to identify the effect when it’s ripped off in other works, as in Kanye West’s music video for “All of the Lights.” (IFC)

— DENNIS WILLIS

Author: Dennis Willis

Dennis Willis is an award-winning producer, TV host, producer, director, editor (he preferred Avid until a torrid affair with Adobe Premiere, and the rest is history), author and film critic (print and radio). Dennis produced and hosted the TV programs Reel Life, FilmTrip, Soundwaves (1983-2008) and produces the annual Soundwaves Xmas program. He is currently the film critic on KGO Radio in San Francisco, and a member of both the San Francisco Film Critics Circle and the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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