Monday, 20 December 2010

ENTER THE VOID (FRANCE/2009/GASPAR NOÉ)

After the boundary-pushing histrionics of Irréversible, many questioned what exactly Gaspar Noé could do next in an attempt to outdo himself. As a result, his latest project Enter The Void has been hyped to an almost embarrassing degree, with themes of drug addiction and spirituality promising an intense display of zeitgeist. Expatriate drug dealer Oscar lives with his pole dancer sister Linda in a flat in Tokyo. On what appears to be a slow evening at a bar, Oscar is shot by the police, and the story takes a turn as he becomes a floating ghost, able to see but not interact with the world around him. In this spirit form, Oscar seeks to fulfil his childhood promise – to protect Linda from evil.

Although it’s shot entirely from Oscar’s point of view, Noé keeps a lot of the film on the surface, and he frequently repeats symbols as if to remind the audience that this film has profundity. Oscar mentions the Tibetan Book of the Dead, before sinking into a DMT-induced hallucination evoking mandalas. A memory-led narrative full of potential becomes worryingly simplistic with lines like “I promise I’ll never ever leave you”. As proven in Irréversible, Noé knows how to play with his audience, and one must applaud him for some of what he manages to put on screen, but where he might have conceived of his film as a sugary pill designed to cure cinema’s ailments, one can’t help but feel this is little more than a placebo.





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