Saturday, May 25, 2013

2013 Cannes Marathon: Enter the Void

(Played in Competition for the Palme d’Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival)

Written and directed by Gaspar Noe, Enter the Void is the story about an American drug dealer who is killed in Japan as he spends his afterlife watching his sister live her life. The film is an exploration into the world of death but also life itself where a dead man deals with his past as well as his sister’s future. Starring Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, and Cyril Roy. Enter the Void is a hallucinatory yet mind-bending trip of a film from Gaspar Noe.

The film is essentially a story of life and death in which an American drug dealer who lives in Tokyo with his sister as he gets killed during a deal gone wrong. The event would lead to all sorts of things as the man would spend part of his afterlife in an out-of-body experience where he not only watches his sister grieve but also look back on his entire life that is full of drama and tragedy which plays into the fragile bond he has with his sister. It’s a film that may have a simple story with little plot despite utilizing a three-act structure. Yet, it’s a story that is quite intriguing in not just the idea of death but also grief as the sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta) deals with this loss as she had already been through enough in her life where she and her brother Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) made this pact to be together to the end.

Instead, Oscar’s death would send Linda into a tailspin where Oscar would watch his life play out in the film’s second act as it would lead to some very telling moments in its third act. Oscar’s out-of-body experience relates to his interest in the Buddhist book The Tibetan Book of the Dead where what happens him after death has him lurking around his surroundings where he looks for something to inhabit as if he believes in reincarnation.

The direction of Gaspar Noe is very hypnotic in not just the way he presents Tokyo but also everything else where he does play into this style where it is shot in continuous take with the exception of the second act where Oscar looks back on his entire life. With all of these stylish shots that is told from Oscar’s point-of-view, the camera is always showing things as if he’s looking at something including what happens to him after death. There, the camera is often flying over the city of Tokyo where it looks down on what is happening and how the world is moving on without him. While there are these fast blinks that does happen in the film’s first and second act which does often happen continuously, it becomes much more continuous in its third act where Oscar is flying over the city looking above.

The city of Tokyo itself is a character but it’s presented in this very lavish and colorful world as if it is presented with this air of psychedelia and surrealism where the colors are much more heightened. Notably as Noe would include some insert shots of Tokyo being shot from above as well as some very intense yet entrancing visual effects sequences that plays into Oscar’s drug-induced state or coming into the afterlife. These sequences are definitely help to tell the story as well as the idea of life and death. Especially in the latter where time doesn’t exist where Oscar watches things from afar including all of these moments that includes some sexually-explicit content that is stylized as well as moments that play into the emotional turmoil that Linda is going through. Overall, Noe creates a very evocative yet sensational film about life and death.

Cinematographer Benoit Debie does brilliant work with the film‘s very colorful and extravagant cinematography with its use of colorful lights to heighten the world of Tokyo as well as creating moods that are surrealistic but also stylized. Editors Gaspar Noe, Marc Boucrot, and Jerome Pesnel do amazing work with the editing by creating a sense of texture through the continuous approach of the editing while using some unconventional jump-cuts for the film‘s second act montage. Production designers Jean-Andre Carriere and Kikuo Ohta do fantastic work with the set pieces from the apartments, strip clubs, and other places along with some of the models of Tokyo.

Costume designer Nicoletta Massone does wonderful work with the costumes as it‘s mostly casual with the exception of the clothes that Linda wears. Visual effects supervisor Geoffrey Niquet and visual effects designer Pierre Buffin do phenomenal work with the visual effects that play into that sense of surrealism from the hallucinogenic images to some of the scenes of Tokyo. Sound designer Ken Yasumoto does superb work with the sound to create that sense of tense atmosphere in the clubs where layers of sounds clash as well as scenes set in Tokyo. The film’s music by Thomas Bangalter is great for its soundtrack that is filled with a mixture of high-octane dance music with some ambient pieces as it is presented in a sound collage that features acts like Coil, Throbbing Gristle, LFO, and Johann Sebastian Bach.

The casting by Lisa Mae Fincannon, Des Hamilton, Barbara Pfister, and Kathryn Taylor is excellent as it features some notable small roles from Emily Alyn Lind and Jesse Kuhn as the adolescent versions of Linda and Oscar, Janice Beliveau-Sicotte as their mother, Masato Tanno as Linda’s boss Mario, Ed Spear as Oscar’s supplier Bruno, and Olly Alexander as one of Oscar’s customers in Victor. Cyril Roy is terrific as Oscar’s artist friend Alex who is the one person in Oscar’s life that is any good as he also tries to help out Linda. Nathaniel Brown is amazing as Oscar who deals with his own death while wandering around Tokyo as a man seeking a soul to inhabit. Paz de la Huerta is wonderful as Linda as a woman ravaged by loss as she is trying to deal with her loneliness as well as the tragedy of her life.

Enter the Void is an outstanding film from Gaspar Noe. The film is truly unlike anything that is out there in terms of its technical brilliance as well as it’s very compelling approach on the idea of life and death. It’s also a film that plays like one big-ass mind-fuck that won’t stop while seducing the audience with its extremely sensational images. Though it’s not for everyone including those with epilepsy, it’s definitely a bold yet ambitious statement about the concept of life and death. In the end, Enter the Void is a magnificent film from Gaspar Noe.

Gaspar Noe Films: Carne - I Stand Alone - Irreversible - Love (2015 film) - Climax (2018 film) - (Lux Aeterna) - Vortex (2021 film) - The Auteurs #48: Gaspar Noe

© thevoid99 2013


Alex Withrow said...

(Sorry I'm spamming your site with all these comments, I'm behind on your reviews!)

LOVE Enter the Void. You're so right, it's one long, extended mind fuck, and I am perfectly okay with that. Totally nuts.

thevoid99 said...

The spamming has got to go.

Man, that film was such a mind-fuck. I wanna see it again.