Sunday, January 30, 2011

Under 250: Enter the Void

Gaspar Noe leaps headfirst into another semi-philosophical, overtly gratuitous, relatively pretentious, visually inventive, occasionally redundant bad trip.  Is it more palatable than Irreversible?  Oh, very much so.  Enter the Void is an oddly cohesive psychological bender of the spiritual, the biological, and the hallucinogenic.  The film takes on that whole 'circle of life' thing, giving us a camera behind the eyes of a young American drug dealer holed up in Tokyo with his stripper sister (the forever nude, forever wasted Paz de la Huerta) who is killed early in the film.  That's not a spoiler, as Enter the Void is the type of film that doesn't rely on plot points.  Enter the Void is, as the title suggests, about the experience.    As our protagonist becomes nothing but the floating, traveling eye of the camera, the pieces of his life are not so much told as slowly unfolded in long takes and sporadic, temporally jumpy bits and pieces.  While Noe spends insanely large chunks of time on little more than flashing lights, bathroom floors, or sex scenes of little consequence; the message is a logical one, and the film works.  While there's a bit of silly mysticism at work here and the actual acting (when the film bothers to dip into character) is a little stilted,  Enter the Void is a beautiful, trippily offbeat film that succeeds in being unlike anything I've ever seen before.  It pushes the limits of what we've seen and what we expect to make the vulgar relatively tasteful and the tasteful fairly nauseating.  Enter the Void is a nightmare and a dream, heaven and hell, a cinematic drug, and a strangely compelling argument for innovative 3D art films (though to clarify, this is not at all in 3D).

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