Enter the Void is about Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a heavy drug user and dealer living in the seedy underbelly of Tokyo. Oscar decides that he wants to bring his sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta), who he's very close to, over to Tokyo as well. Oscar and Linda were separated when they were children after a car accident killed their parents. Oscar brings Linda to Tokyo only to get her mixed up in the wrong crowd and within days Linda is on the pole being exploited and Oscar is powerless to stop her. It's around this time that Oscar finds himself shot by the police, largely due to bad karma and from here on in, Enter the Void takes a turn for the vividly and wildly surreal. We follow Oscar's ghost POV style, even the camera 'blinks', because apparently ghosts blink as well, as Oscar floats his way around Tokyo in a dreamlike out of body experience. Witnessing the ramifications of his actions on his loved ones and friends, if you could even call them friends.
The point I took away from Enter the Void, even though it's a deliberately nebulous movie is that every decision you make, every action you take, no matter how small or how trivial it may seem, can profoundly impact the rest of your life and those around you. So choose wisely! Of course, that's just me. There was a lot of sex and nudity of the seedy sort too and there was some seriously weird incestuous overtones that would make Freud proud as well. If you're easy to offend or delicate, as a lot of people seem to be nowadays then I wouldn't recommend Enter the Void. The actual visual palette of Enter the Void is quite lovely though, there's a lot of neon-lit pastels to be mesmerized by, but whenever we start feeling enamored or mesmerized by them, we're dragged back down to the ugliness of... us.
Enter the Void is a long movie too, it's almost three hours long and I'd say for at least two hours of it, there's practically no talking, it's just pure visual storytelling. Enter the Void was obviously inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead, the book is even mentioned in the movie at length and while I'm no expert on Tibetan Buddhism, it talks about the journey between worlds, the transition and subsequent reincarnation. Understanding those concepts, even in broad strokes can help open the movie up I think, it helped me wrap my head around it anyway.
I always remember Paul Thomas Anderson saying that he never remembers what a movie is about, only what that movie made him feel, and I think Gaspar Noe falls into that same line of thinking. I'll forget the details of Enter the Void pretty quickly, but the experience and emotions I felt while watching it, I don't think they'll ever leave me. Enter the Void still feels too long and even though it's probably one of the most ambitious and experimental movies I've ever seen, it's also one of the most profoundly sad and tragic movies I've ever seen as well. Enter the Void is a movie you really have to be in a certain frame of mind to fully appreciate, I'm not saying you should be on drugs when you watch it, but just in a sort of meditative and contemplative mood to fully appreciate the recondite nature of the subject material. Just let it wash over you with an open mind, it's a trip.
Written by - The Sentry - 02/07/2015