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Enter the Void


Rod Lott January 17th, 2011

Says the male lead as he's dealing drugs at a club, "Be careful. They're really trippy."

The same could apply to the film, "Enter the Void," written and directed by Gaspar Noé, the mad Argentine who previously shocked the arthouse world with 2002's "Irréversible," known informally as "the one where Monica Bellucci gets raped."

Well, that scene's brutality is blown away by several scenes in "Void." Unfortunately, so will your patience.

It begins with a lot of promise. After a stellar opening-credit sequence that's one for the record books, we're introduced to the sibling duo of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) and Linda (Paz de la Huerta), and their really weird relationship. For the next 25 minutes, arguably nothing "happens," yet it's all shown through Oscar's eyes, down to every blink. They discuss The Tibetian Book of the Dead; she leaves his tiny apartment; he gets high; then he leaves with a skeevy pal, and is shot dead in a dingy bathroom by the cops.

Those 25 minutes are genuinely interesting, even captivating, as you're lulled into the film's neon-drenched mood; the next 136 — that's not a typo — are not. They are aggravatingly slow and self-indulgent as Oscar haunts Linda, a stripper who allows herself to be used, gets pregnant, and has an abortion. If that last scene doesn't cause many to hit "eject" in its extreme graphicness, then the final 20-minute orgy scene might, or one near the film's bitter end will, that gives you an inside look at ... well, let's just leave it at that.

A newcomer, Brown exhibits little energy to match's Goé's ever-swirling overhead camera, and de la Huerta's not much better, every bit the bland, wet blanket she portrays in HBO's "Boardwalk Empire." The real stars of "Enter the Void" are the visuals, absolutely dazzling, as a work where each scene involves CGI effects should be. (Don't believe it? Check out the disc's VFX comparison reel.) Depending on the sequence, they can cause awe, boredom and/or seizures.  

Is it art? Yes! Is it good? Well ... define “good.” I do know that this one's undeniably brave, certainly divisive, needlessly bloated and questionably pointless. —Rod Lott



 
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