Enter The Void (2010) Review
WARNING. SOME SPOILERS.
Enter The Void is not for everyone. I don’t even know if it’s for me. I have a friend or two that are/were DJs in the techno scene. They would probably think that this is the best film ever made. It incorporates all of the things that go with the techno world. Bright neon colors. Thumping techno music. Drug ‘trips’. Sex. Night life. Cynicism. Low level psychology and philosophy. The film is heavily weighted towards style (and shock value) over substance.
On one hand, it tries doing something that is atypical. It’s not the first time I’ve seen the (mostly) first person camera POV and the abstract narrative, but it is not a common way of presenting a film. The visuals obviously are a big part. The entire film assaults the viewer like techno club lighting. It looks like one of those 1970s felt black light posters that are too cool when you turned the lights off. Most of the people that owned those weredefinitely hitting the bong also, but I digress. I do applaud the attempt at something different. BUT…
On the other hand… The film is entirely too long and this comes from someone who thinks that thinks Amadeus, Zodiac and Schindler’s List (all at over 2.5 hours) just breezed by. I get what director Gaspar Noe is going for with the floating camera and the long trippy amorphous shapes and colors, but he overreached by a country mile. The best comparison I watched this one via streaming and at times it seemed like the screen saver would come on and I would have to stare at that for 5 or 10 minutes before I got some more ‘trippy’, abstract story images. There was just too much repetitive meandering. Usually directors linger on a moment or person an object to convey emotion. An idea. Give emphasis. Noe lingers on everything.
It’s obvious within a minute where the film is going with all of the Book of the Dead, bhudist and reincarnation talk. The end is not a surprise. Apparently Noe thought that he was doing some kind of M. Night Shyamalamadingdong twist and that everyone was completely fooled. I’m not saying that the film isn’t intelligent or even thought provoking. I think it’s just a lot less clever than what the filmmakers seem to think that it is. It has similarities to Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem For A Dream visually and in shock value, but it lacks any similarity in the emotional response that ‘Requiem’ evokes. That film is a well written albeit depressing, brutally frank masterpiece. This one relies too much on the post production.
It’s minimalistic storytelling and character development doesn’t lend itself to over 2 hours. The abstract way of presenting the story doesn’t allow for any emotional involvement with any of the characters, either. It might have worked better as a short film. This could have EASILY lost 40 minutes without noticeable difference. When the film finally DOES come to a possible end point, Noe chooses to treat the audience to a graphic abortion (literally) followed by more extremely gratuitous content.
The story itself doesn’t center around the drug abusing dealer Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) so much as the people surrounding him throughout his life, especially his sister (Paz de la Huerta). There’s a serious attempt at Freudian psychology here. Noe is constantly comparing Oscar’s relationships with lovers to that of his mother and sister throughout. He then leaves that aspect of the film dangling at the end as if he couldn’t figure out what he was trying to say. Or maybe I just missed the point, I don’t know. I’ve been watching a lot of films lately that meander and then end without an actual ending. Enter The Void does have a proper ending, but the meaning of the film eludes me.
The movie seems to be a very cynical take on spiritualism, or more to the point reincarnation. If you live your life like the immoral morons in this film do, reincarnation won’t exactly sound like a good thing anyway. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe it’s about doing better the next time around, I don’t know. There’s no indication of that. I can’t say that I really cared for anyone in the film. On top of that, the lead character Oscar (played by Nathaniel Brown) was one of the more wooden actors that I’ve seen.Enetr The Void is ambitious, but ultimately unsatisfying… And a little too gratuitous.