Every year we are graced with a number of great films, some stay with you till the day you die most fade away in a couple of years, Gaspar Noé’s “Enter the Void” belongs to the former category. Thousands of films get releases every year. To count how many films actually exist is an impossible task, but according to The Internet Movie Database, it’s an estimate of over a million. The point I’m trying make is, with so many films in existence, it’s becoming rare for us to see something we’ve never seen before. “Enter the Void” is just that, it’s the most original film of the year and unlike anything you have ever and most likely will ever see.
The film has been in the making for nearly fifteen years and it is all there onscreen. The number of talented contributors to this film is above the average number of crew members. Just like Noé’s previous film “Irreversible”, “Enter the Void” is unsettling, disturbing and not for everyone. From the start second, you know right away that you’re not simply watching a film, you’re stepping into a psychological experience. Not since my viewings of “Apocalypse Now” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” have I walked out of a movie with a sense of awakening. You’ll either hate this film or love it but one thing is for sure, you’ll come out of it changed with a better understanding of life and death. Notice how I still haven’t mentioned what the film is about, it’s nearly impossible to describe a film with such ambition. “Enter the Void” is about life, death, tragedy, the afterlife, family, friendship, sex, drugs, and most importantly existence. Noé uses a subjective camera to slip you into the shoes of an amateur drug dealer by the name of Oscar.
We step into a journey inspired by ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’. The first ten or so minutes are presented in a sequence of eye lining shots. We only see the world through Oscar’s eyes, it’s a subjective view on life. The screen goes black for split seconds when he blinks. When he injects drugs into his system we plunge into a psychedelic state of mind with mind bending visuals much similar to the star gate sequence in “2001: A Space Odyssey”. We then meet his friend, Alex who tells him to wait until he dies for the ultimate mind trip. He further explains how according to ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’ when you die “your spirit leaves your body. At first you see all your life reflected in a magic mirror and then you start floating like a ghost. You can see everything around you, you can hear everything but you can’t communicate with the world of the living. You see lights, different lights of all different colors.” Not much later, we helplessly embark on the out of body experience Alex just put in plain words. Noé was spot on in setting the film in the neon flickering Tokyo. The moody city is part of the story and helps detaching us from reality, all thanks to the artistry behind all the visually soothing cinematography.
The film’s climax takes place in the erotic Hotel Love, it ends with what is without doubt the most accurate, detailed and internal sex scene in the history of film. Let’s just say that when it comes to sex scenes, close-up have never gone this close, not even in pornography. Watching it is probably what being on acid feels like. There’s no escaping it. “Enter the Void” captures your consciousness for at least a couple of hours after watching it. You’ll have to occupy your mind elsewhere to rid it from your system, but much like a drug eventually you’ll want to experience it again, and again and again. Many viewers have described this film as a religious experience, I think of it as a visually bizarre and hypnotic psychosexual trip.