Review: Enter the Void DVD

Enter the Void DVD cover
MPI | DIRECTOR: Gaspar Noé | CAST: Nathaniel Brown, Paz de la Huerta, Cyril Roy, Olly Alexander
RELEASE DATE: 1/25/11 | PRICE: DVD $24.98, Blu-ray $29.99
BONUSES: deleted scenes, visual effects montage, trailer and poster gallery
SPECS: NR | 160 min. | Drama thriller | 2.35:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English and Spanish subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio  | Video  | Overall

Enter the Void, by controversial filmmaker Gaspar Noé, is the hands-down winner of head trip of the year — a no-holds-barred psychedelic excursion into life (a decadent one), death and rebirth via the neon-lit world of Tokyo after dark.

Enter the Void movie scene

Life, death and rebirth are the colorful themes of Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void.

You might have thought that Noé’s previous film, the 2002 rape drama Irreversible, was difficult to watch. Well, this one is just as challenging, but ultimately rewarding for those willing to hurl themselves into the Void.

Nathaniel Brown (TV’s Boardwalk Empire) stars as Oscar and Linda, a brother and sister from America living on the edge in Japan. Oscar’s a seller and user of drugs and Linda works works as a stripper.

When a drug deal goes wrong and Oscar is killed, one thinks the film will then solely focus on Linda, and it essentially does. But — and it’s a big but — we begin to observe Linda and the goings-on around her through the freshly dead spirit of Oscar, which floats about Tokyo training a hazy, iridescent gaze on all. This afterlife experience comes to a climax after numerous psychedelic, sexual and violent episodes when Oscar’s spirit appears to be become one with his sister’s and he is reborn. Or at least, I think so.

Oscar’s spirit’s extended point-of-view journey in Enter the Void gives Noé a chance to razzle and dazzle audiences with all manner of camera movements, filters, color palettes, pull-focusing, editing techniques and lighting schemes. At points, the camera passes through walls and ceilings, floats high above nighttime Tokyo, and even enters other people’s bodies and heads).

It has been reported that Noé was inspired by the Tibetan Book of the Dead’s interpretation of the afterlife, and there might be those who see that as a lot of mumbo-jumbo, but there’s no denying that the filmmaker translates what he gleaned into a staggeringly visual experience.

Enter the Void plays like a carefully choreographed light show where the difference between death and life can be measured in colors, brightness, textures and movements. Clocking in at over 2½ hours, the film is not for everyone, but those who groove on these kind of cinematic tapestries won’t want it to end.

Even the bonus features on the DVD are trippy. They include a handful of visual effects montages, a gallery of edit-happy trailers (many of which were never used) and a couple of deleted scenes that may not have been necessary to include in the film, but are just as colorful and kaleidoscopic as anything that’s in there.


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About Laurence

Founder and editor Laurence Lerman saw Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest when he was 13 years old and that’s all it took. He has been writing about film and video for more than a quarter of a century for magazines, anthologies, websites and most recently, Video Business magazine, where he served as the Reviews Editor for 15 years.