Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Enter the Void (Gaspar Noe)

Existence in Tokyo in full, living (literally) color.

Gaspar Noe, an underground master auteur, continues his visceral exploration of raw human drama with "Enter the Void", an epic surrealist film with touches of the supernatural interspersed with unsettling colors and images going askew into a territory where despair is a way of life. Going as ambiguous as possible with the theme of 'incest' prevalent throughout the film, Noe combines the 'in-your-face' emotional gut wrench of "Irreversible" and the aforementioned theme in the psychologically disturbing "I Stand Alone".

With both approaches from these two previous films utilized, we have, in our hands, an assault to the senses that is also a dire though sweet cinematic discourse about sibling love paired with a bit of mental conflict.

The film was labeled as a 'Psychedelic Melodrama', which is of course an absolutely perfect description. But "Enter the Void" is also a perfect example of an experimental film made by a filmmaker with an imagination going through constant permutations. Its story concerns that of a deceased drug dealer named Oscar (played by new-comer Nathaniel Brown) and his transcendent observation of his sister's (played by Paz de la Huerta) life through transitions of fires and lights in the calmly transgressive night life in Tokyo.

Gaspar Noe already used reverse chronology, 'shock' filmmaking and continuous shots in his previous works. This time, he initially used first person point of view, then suddenly transforming into shots behind the protagonist's back. Not only does it provide a closer look into the film's degrading drama of sex and drugs, nor is it just a senselessly voyeuristic perception of the more sexually-charged sequences. It's also an emotional narrative device of how those people around the protagonist look to be too close to touch yet too far away to feel.

It's Oscar's sentiment; a feeling that could have been bastardized by over-exposition. But the film has captured it in a fairly simplistic manner by this unorthodox cinematic style that is also a product of an affluent dedication to the craft. Amidst the complex imagery and hovering eagle's viewpoint that explores the moody qualms of Tokyo, Japan, "Enter the Void" is also about an individual's alienation about those around him resulted by a stigmatic past and the endlessly agonizing consequences of unguided existence.

Films like these, although it may find a more positive general response from time to time, will always fall into two categorizations: Either be perceived as a pornographic exploitation wrapped in vibrant pretense or be particularly viewed as an essential piece of cinema. Either way, "Enter the Void" inspires divisiveness, which is what 'true' cinema is all about.

Modifying Truffaut, a film must either be about the joy or agony of making it. This film dealt with love and pain and strife and life. It grabs the middle ground and never lets go.


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