Director: Gaspar Noé
Cinematography: Benoît Debie
Writers: Gaspar Noé, Lucile Hadzihalilovic
Stars: Paz De La Huerta, Nathanial Brown, Cyril Roy,
Experiencing death in the first-person, as the bullet pops through the bathroom door, and Oscar (Nathanial Brown) falls to the ground as his spirit ascends into the void. Enter The Void is a surrealist journey of life after death and what’s to come for the deceased and his loved ones but shown in a horrifyingly beautiful and colorful visual sense that hits as an emotional gut-punch.
I find this film to be really incredible, not only for the heart-pounding cinematography, score, and overall look of the film but the emotional weight in the performances and heartbreaking narrative. As the reality of the situation sets in for Oscar’s sister, Linda (Paz De La Huerta), as her last remaining link to her family disappears, we feel the real depth of her despair. It’s all encapsulated in one, towering scene where Victor (Olly Alexander) visits Linda to say sorry, and her response will stick with me forever. It’s a deep dive into loss and life.
If you can’t already tell, Paz De La Huerta’s performance had quite an impact on me. For one, even in the void, the audience is experiencing it as Oscar’s character is, as he helplessly watches his sister struggle to cope, and what feels like the eventuality of her life. The moment Oscar passes in the film, her life is on a ticking time clock. And again, it comes to a boil in that apology scene, as her mind breaks from stress and grief. Seeing someone truly alone in the world. Sensational visual storytelling.
First Person Storytelling
Personally, this film works on this level because of its perspective. Shot in a normal omniscient story perspective, the feel would be drastically different. The camera becomes a character, and we get to understand the entirety of the world. It also leads into an aspect of this film that rises above the rest, and that’s the job done by Benoit Debie.
The swooping camera movements, the evil atmosphere this neon plastered light show creates, and the ability to lose ourselves in the visuals. His worm is groundbreaking in Enter The Void, and is the best example of this style. Noé’s vision for this film perfectly coincided with the work of Debie, as this film tacts on some of the best visuals of all-time. It’s as if the stargate sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey was expanded into an entirely colorful experience of surreal human experiences.
Yes, high praise for this film, but I believe it’s absolutely worthy of all of it. Entering the Void as a viewer leads to some unbelievable sequencing, as it quickly jumps from life to memory to the rest of Tokyo. The great part is in truly shows ALL OF IT. The beautiful nurturing world of life, quickly overshadowed by the hidden underbelly of death. We see this in a true visual sense, as the editing plays two juxtaposed visuals back-to-back throughout.
The bulk of this review has talked about death, but the film is filled with life. And the center of life is sex, and Enter The Void features a lot of it. It gets to the bare essentials of our existence on this planet. The film portrays lovemaking through this fiery light that stems out into the ether. It’s a wonderful visual representation of life and our meaning on this planet, which leads to the eventual ending and hopefulness of our world.
Cyril Roy’s Presence
Alex (Cyril Roy) is a very endearing character and a person that feels closer to a friend than just a character on the screen. His grief-stricken fall into substance abuse, similar to Linda’s fall into confusion and despair, is ridiculously hard to watch. Alex, despite his natural shortcomings as a character, is one of the few people who show genuine compassion. It’s a representation of hanging on to friends and family that care because most of the world doesn’t.ion of this idea, and as I stated above, the ending where Alex finds Linda felt inevitable. Mind you, it still comes out of nowhere as both characters hit rock bottom in the third act, but even early in the film Alex’s attraction and relationship with Oscar meant for some sort of deeper meaning in the end. Cyrim Rose gives an excellent performance here.
One last thing, the idea of reincarnation to end the film was a fantastic way to end this visual experience. It promotes thought on our general idea of the afterlife but also opens us up to the idea of reincarnation. The thematical depth of this narrative is much deeper than the visual nature of the film would suggest.
It’s a classic movie. People will remember it for its uniqueness and the visuals. It’s also completely heartbreaking and truly made me feel for the characters in the story. Please, seek out this wonderful film and enjoy it.