…and the quest to see everything

Enter the Void

The festival talk about Gaspar Noe’s Enter the Void, sometimes accompanied by stills of women stripping, made me think it was gonna be like his earlier effort Irreversible but with glow sticks. The trailer shows us Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) reminding his promise to his sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta) that they’ll stay together forever, and he tries to stick to that promise despite his unplanned journey into the afterlife.

Yes, the film lived up to the first assumptions. I verbally reacted to the gunshot that kills Oscar in a bathroom of a Tokyo dive. Because seriously, who threatens the police with a gun he doesn’t have? There is also a car crash that kills their parents while both younger Oscar and Linda are in the back seat. Other moments in the film, especially the unconventionally disturbing sexual encounters, are arguably violent by definition, but Noe softens the blow for those other moments. In comparison I guess.

We’re seeing this through Oscar’s perspective, with the camera’s distracting pans and tilts, blinks, or when neon-coloured fractals as he trips out. After his death, the camera follows the back of his head, it neither blinks and the digital resolution is blurrier. It’s sad that we barely see the protagonist’s face that’s too handsome and youthful to belong to a character doing hard drugs. I’m even suspecting that the drugs in the plot is just an excuse to level with the neophyte actor’s lack of talent. Brown’s acting is so comatose it’s a relief to see the other characters instead. The actress who plays little Linda (Emily Alyn Lind) is a better actor. de la Huerta gives a great performance but is marred by the camera blurring her or zooming away.

I saw this film someone. We took time before starting the conversation. She then talked about the incestuous ‘undertones’ between the siblings, bringing us to my second set of assumptions, that instead of traumatizing me and tripping me out, that it was gonna be about an emotional bond between the siblings. That Noe grew as an auteur, showing us two great characters together. The accident sets off a series of events, depicted in a non-linear fashion, that separate the two but they eventually meet as sexually charged young adults. Their relationship isn’t the only one seen under a Freudian lens – experiencing the afterlife, Oscar remembers every woman he’s been with and compare them to either his mother or sister. Which I guess is an interesting perspective but it doesn’t pan out well on film. It even felt perverse and unnecessary to me.

With the good and the bad, it also presents an contrarian perspective on reincarnation. The psychedelic gimmick of the film, a feat in itself, isn’t even worth the content.

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