Enter the Void has been called the 2001 of our time. I can acknowledge the validity of that statement, and I would definitely argue that Gaspar Noe is the Stanley Kubrick of our time. While Noe is not as well known as Mr. Perfection, both filmmakers have created films that challenge almost everything we have come to accept about society while diving head first into controversial themes, images, sylistic choices, etc. A Noe movie, much like a Kubrick one, is an experience, not a piece of entertainment.
Noe's third and best feature explores what happens after death. Death is terrifyingly evil because it permanently takes us away from all that we know and love, and brings us to a place where we have no idea what is in store for us to stay for all eternity. Noe's film focuses on characters who live at the brink of death, associating themselves with the worst of Tokyo's infamous underworld. A young drug dealer named Oskar is killed, and his ghost is able to watch over his sister while seeing his entire life flash before his eyes.
Imagine what it would be like to feel somewhat alive after your death. You can float over your body, fly through walls, race across city blocks within seconds, and oversee anything. As freeing as this may sound, however, you also can't escape the more horrific times of your life. A tragic event that changed your life forever may manifest itself in everything you see. On top of that, you have no control. You can no longer think, feel, or communicate.
2001: A Space Odyssey imagined what space and life have been and will be like as time progresses. It also ponders over what is time, what is the infinite. Similarly, Enter the Void imagines what death would be like. It makes you question what exactly is death, and if there is any salvation for any of us.
The key difference between the two films is that Enter the Void plays out like a nightmare. We see the characters left behind spiralling further into a more fucked up way of life. We witness an onscreen abortion, orgies, and a terrifying car crash. This is not a movie for everyone. There are many who will be turned off simply by the style because the movie is literally seen through the eyes of the main character, alive and dead. The camera wanders left, right, up, down, never staying still. It can cause motion sickness and nausea. Others may be turned off by the depressingly dark subject matter, the 160 minute running time, or the graphic violence/sex.
One major asset this film has is the way it uses CGI. This is the way CGI should be used in movies. Fuck giant transforming robots. CGI is supposed to help tell the story. And the CGI in this movie is subtle, but nothing short of jaw-dropping incredible. Oskar stands in front of a mirror. So does the camera. But the camera is nowhere to be seen. Oskar then splashes water on his face, and water trickles down the lens. Brilliant stuff.
Enter the Void is meant to disturb you, but it also wants you to think about death. Not a subject we want to think about, but if you continue to watch this film, you can't help but reflect on it. The film's ending is particularly interesting, and provides the audience with a sense of hope, unlike Noe's previous film, Irreversible. I saw several walkouts during the film, and by the time the credits roled, the only response was from someone who said, "Thank God." But I bet if Gaspar Noe attended this screening, he would have been proud of that remark. After all, if you can sit through a Gaspar Noe film, you can sit through pretty much anything.