In an age in which filmmakers come equipped with an abundance of influences and progressively more obscure concepts, it’s all the more rare to come across something so obviously audacious that at the core, is tremendously, mind-crushingly simple. Indeed, the simplest stories take the longest to perfect, and this one in particular took almost twenty years. In Gaspar Noe’s Enter The Void, not only are we presented with a film that is his most fully realised piece of work yet, perhaps even his magnum opus, but we have a film that when stripped of all its technical innovation, idiosyncratic auteurship and typical french extremity, is really just a film about circles.
Specifically, the circle of life. But in the never-ending shot (excluding blinking and various other proverbial trips into the limbo-like void there are no cuts so prepare to feel very anxious watching this) that positions us deep inside Oscar’s head (less a conventional protaganist, more a temporary perspective for our own consciousness), the audience are continuously reminded of the circles that dictate our entire life. Whether it be the parallels between sucking on the end of a cigarette and sucking your mother’s tit after birth or the similarities between the record spinning round playing filtered disco beats in The Void and our own heartbeat, Noe reveals one by one, the meaningless struggles we make in life in an attempt to feel comfortable. And it’s all achieved in one DMT-induced visual trip through the internal vision of a dead drug dealer (played by the faceless Nathaniel Brown) trying to make sense of his past and look over sister (Paz De La Huerta) as she attempts to deal with her brother’s death by doing lots of sexy things in a vibrant and sleazy Tokyo club district.
So narrative wise it is a simple, yet wholly original story about the human struggle through a hallucinogenic kaleidoscope. There’s lots of sex, drugs and pounding, pounding techno music. Wonderful stuff so far, right? Yes yes yes, but its originality is owed in no small part to Gaspar’s meticulous need for sensory stimulation. Had this film been released before the technology existed to allow Noe’s camera to float across an entire city as Oscar’s ghost – presumably still tripping balls – is barging through concrete walls, then the narrative would have fell short of everything time has permitted the sensory-stimulating director to achieve. What that is, is the closest visual representation to what actually goes on inside our heads that has ever been given a worldwide cinema release.
It begins, after the amazing title sequence, with a never-ending psychedelic trip and once that has trapped you it will not let go of your senses for the remaining two hours. The sounds are immersive and haunting (thank you Thomas Bangalter, elected overlord of noise), the visuals are glowing and composed to the most precise detail, and in doing so, we finally have a piece of cinema that can accurately boast that the audience shares a connection with the lead character. You become him, his life flashing before his eyes is your life, that car crash is your own repressed memory, and it hits you just as hard. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
And even by internet generation standards, there are some seriously provoking and controversial things on show here, but isn’t that the sort of things that fills our own minds on an every day basis? You will not find another film as honest and revealing about humanity’s existential peculiarity than Enter The Void. If you’re offended then drop that cigarette, stop thinking about breasts and remember, it’s just a film about circles. Circles that we all ride on, and a superb insight into that special, fascinating one that never, ever ends.
The most recent work-friendly trailer can be seen above. But for a real taste of what to expect, watch the brand new Love Hotel trailer below. It’s one whole minute of awesome that should definitely not be watched at work or in front of parents, unless that’s your thing, I guess.
ENTER THE VOID – Love Hotel teaser from Enter The Void on Vimeo.