Much has been written about Enter the Void, some commentators even announced the film as nothing less than of a re-invention of Cinema. I don't agree, but the film is clearly a masterpiece of pure sensation cinema, with its drug-induced visions of galaxies of muli-colored nebulae, its depiction of Tokyo bathed in perpetual hallucinogenic neon and its dense sound design of overlapping dialogue and the soundtrack music, a veritable sonic sculpture of experimental electronica. The visual aesthetic is so fully integrated into the story that we see much of the events of the film through Oscar's eyes, (or sometimes from behind his head). Even when Oscar blinks his eyes, the image also subliminally flicks - it sounds gimmicky but Noé carries it off with considerable skill. 1. The framework of the story also allows Noé render the space and time limitless and the film includes flashbacks and memories, and memories within memories.
Besides the final section of the film which has some explicit sex, Enter the Void has little of the contentious imagery like the skull-crushing and the rape scene from Irreversible. Noé took inspiration for the story from the Tibetan Book of the Dead (which is not required reading before you see the film), and unlike the climax of the director's previous film where the catastrophic fates of the two lovers were irreversible, Enter the Void ends on an unexpectedly optimistic note. However you are duly warned about the swirling anchorless camerawork which caused fits of nausea at theatrical screenings, as Oscar's spirit glides across rooftops, swoops down on streets and melts through walls.
If there is a fault line running through the film, it's in the performances, which tend to be weak in spots. Also, the film in its full director's cut is a weighty 163mins, and the pacing is leisurely to say the least. Admittedly the film has almost no characters one can sympathize with and if you care little about young people taking excessive amounts of LSD, the film might leave you out in cold. So investigate with caution, but please do investigate and see where Noé's voyage au bout de la nuit takes you.
German label Capelight's Region B Blu-Ray is an excellent presentation, but must be stressed is hardly a demo disc. First up, the Blu-Ray is packaged in a nifty book style case (with a German text interview with Noé inside), and also contains 2 DVDs - the 1st DVD containing the 156min cut of the film and the 2nd DVD holding the extras.
The 2:35 image has a certain softness which is inherent in the original film, no doubt due to the heavy digital manipulation and extensive layering of computer generated textures. It actually works well as it takes the edge off the CGI making the visuals seem more organic. Soundwise, the Blu-Ray is a powerhouse, and the film is best played loud, with the dense soundtrack making for an incredible immersive experience. Audio is offered in two languages - German and English, each of which have optional removable German and English subtitles (worth nothing that there is almost no Japanese dialogue in the film, perhaps a throwaway line or two). Extras for the film are on the 3rd DVD within the set and include all the material from the US disc - deleted scenes, a piece deconstructing the special effects, some extended trippy visuals, and international trailers.
The German edition does however have two exclusive extras. The first, a 5 minute experimental stroboscopic film called ENERGIE! (created by Thorsten Fleisch, who does an optional German only commentary for this short piece). The second German only extra is the jewel in the set - a 52min film called Into the Night with Harmony Korine and Gaspar Noé (in English with optional German subs). Directed by Bruce La Bruce, the film is basically a day trip Gaspar Noe made with Harmony Korine around Korine's hometown of Nashville. In the film we see both directors visit a theatre showing Korine's weird 2009 VHS experiment Trash Humpers, fire some guns at a target range, explore the flotsam and jetsam of a junkyard, (which reminds Noé of Street Trash) as well as encounters with Korine's reassuringly oddball and eccentric friends. It's an excellent little film, but some may be disappointed that Gaspar Noé is not the enfant terrible that his reputation suggests, in fact he's cheerful, relaxed and funny, and refreshingly down to earth.
The limited edition 3-disc Capelight DVD is still available at Amazon Germany. Not sure how limited this edition is, but its well worth a purchase.
1. The idea of seeing the film through the eyes of its protagonist is hardly a new concept - Orson Welles had planned to shoot Heart of Darkness with a subjective camera as far back as 1939 (the film was scrapped and Welles made Citizen Kane instead) and actor/director Robert Montgomery shot his 1947 noir Lady In the Lake so the action unfolds through the eyes of private detective Philip Marlowe.