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Written by on October 6, 2010 

Enter the Void is unlike most films you see in the mainstream, a transformative experience so intense that, by the end, your eyes might be bleeding. It’s director Gaspar Noe – a true visionary in every sense of the word, pushing the possibilities of the camera into a stratosphere of its own. Known for being the bad boy auteur in France, Noe’s previous film Irreversible polarized critics for similar reasons in that it dealt with very brutal and uncomfortable situations presented in such a fashion it was hard not to be bowled over by it. The subject matter of his new film is also dark, very dark and can perhaps be construed as a ‘psychedelic melodrama’ between drug addicts, criminals, whores and everything in between. Still, at it’s core Enter the Void is a spiritual and uncanny experience that will most likely leave you unnerved and mesmerized.

After maybe the coolest opening credits of all time, the film begins from a singular point of view, almost intended to simulate how we experience life everyday as human beings, as the audience literally becomes the protagonist of this trippy experience. There is Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), the main actor whose face we only catch a glimpse off early on in a mirror, who lives in a dingy apartment in the heart of Tokyo selling drugs. His sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta) is working as a stripper and there is something unusual about their relationship hinted at early on. In addition to selling, Oscar is also prone to using which is a concern for both his friends and the audience. There is a straight up hallucination scene that occurs about twenty minutes into the film that is animated on screen using computer graphics that gives you an indication of the kind of trip Noe is taking us on.

Suffice to say that to explain the plot any further would succeed in ruining the surprises the film holds in stores for its adventurous viewers seeking an existential roller-coaster. As the film shifts between three distinct narrative styles (POV, flashback, aerial) the movie becomes like an out-of-body experience pushing the audience into realms of fast shifting sounds equipped with powerful imagery of life and death.

As a warning to potential viewers, there are extremely graphic scenes of violence, drug use and sex that may offend some. The film would be an MPAA nightmare but thankfully it’s being released unrated in limited theatrical but also on IFC VOD. It’s clear that Noe had no restrictions in making his dream project and it’s highly refreshing to allow a filmmaker of his caliber this oppurtunity.

Enter the Void is destined to be a cult classic that will be dissected by film enthusiasts for plenty of years to come. It is a rare example of pure cinema. While there are times that Noe pushes the envelope with his story for the purpose of doing just that, they are easy to overlook in the larger scheme of the picture. The amazing camera techniques used to create such an enveloping atmosphere is astounding and will marvel your eyes, even if it all leaves you rather depressed. This film is a testament to Noe, one of the most important directors to watch over the next long while. Enter the Void may not be for everyone, but for those willing to accept the price of admission, it’s a journey that won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

10 out of 10.

What did you think of Enter the Void?

Bonus: Check out German experimental filmmaker Thorsten Fleisch who did Krilian effects research for the Enter the Void title (watch this video if you dare)

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