Enter The Void
Argentine/French filmmaker Gaspar Noé (I Stand Alone, Irreversible) has proven both his amazing vision and his impoverished sensibility with his past forays into feature filmmaking. His latest is a metaphysical movie offered from the generally limited point of view of a drug-dealing teenager, Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), who is killed by the cops in Japan while trying to pull off a drug deal. For much of the film Oscar then hovers over his sister Linda’s life in Tokyo and the film claustrophobically holds to his perspective on events as it also flashes back into the kids’ past where their parents died in an horrific car crash, and the more recent past with the sister’s life as a stripper and her relationship with a gangster boyfriend. The film reworks and tries to find visual form to address spiritual questions of karma and reincarnation. But it is so diffuse in its ideas, so devoid of characterisation and so willing to play with an audience no matter how brilliant the shock tactics (the brother’s death and a car crash are cinematically astonishing) that a feeling of futility takes over.
The film’s many problems are partly those of style. Noé’s curious ability to show too much (one shot shows us the inside of a vagina with a penis moving in and out) yet so very little where we’re seeing everything from a ghostly perspective, is at best frustrating and at worst tedious.
Noé’s 1998 debut feature I Stand Alone remains this adolescent-minded filmmaker’s best film, simply because in that film, whether by fluke or intuition, the balance between personal perspective and cinematic space was just right. What followed were film school style exercises, fatuous in content and overly restless in form.
Filmhouse, Edinburgh, Fri 24 Sep–Thu 7 Oct. GFT, Glasgow, Tue 5–Thu 7 Oct.