Enter the Void

18May10

As a general rule, I am disappointed with current French cinema. The exception that proved the rule earlier this year was “Un Prophète“. So then, the other night, I was drinking at the bar and Mehdi said there was a new film out that kicked his ass. You know what? He was absolutely right.

Gaspar Noé’sEnter the Void” is like if “Le fabuleux destin d’Amélie Poulain” had been directed by the Marquis de Sade. (I am available to write taglines for your film, contact me!) Two thumbs up.

(Spoiler alert)

Noé (born in Argentina, by the way, so France can’t fully claim pride of ownership) pulls no punches. It would be easy to say that he uses all kinds of cheap ways to make you squirm. But then, you realize that there are no hypodermic drug injection scenes – and this in a film chock-full of drug use. So, we can more accurately say that he uses all kinds of cheap ways EXCEPT hypodermic drug injection scenes. In particular, we can tally: head-on collision with truck and ensuing chaos (repeated multiple times), dying man crawling on floor in disgusting Turkish toilet, and abortion including long long close-up of fetus. Not to mention all kinds of sex scenes, including Japanese. I saw it at Gaumont Opéra (in a kind of bourgeois neighborhood) and about 15% of the audience left before the end of the film, but not always at the moments I would have bet money on.

But wait, there’s more! This is not just a shock film. Noé’s dreamlike, nonlinear storytelling (like David Lynch in Lost Highway/Mulholland Drive) is backed up by appropriate and well-done visual effects, transitions, links and transformations, and many repeated references. The POV (Point Of View) shots of Oscar were great, and didn’t have that unnatural Blair Witch feeling. And the POV shot of the cock/sperm was brilliant and perfectly consistent with the rest of the film. (First time I’ve seen that, although I’m sure RJ can tell me 20 other films that did it.)

The final joke was when I left the cinema by a side exit, somewhat exhausted after being pummeled by the film for 155 minutes (e.g. the repeated auto accident scenes), and found myself pummeled one last time, looking square at the jewelry store (Perrono) where I had bought the engagement and wedding rings for my ex-wife. Pow! Aggggh!!!

Gotta see his other films now.

(By the way, when Alex is on the lam, he encounters someone who had his face burned during torture by the police. Who was it?)

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