Gaspar Noé – master of depravity
A wry director, known to chuckle at the depravity of his own films, Gaspar Noé has followed ‘Irréversible’ with ‘Enter the Void’, another violent and explicit nightmare trip through a city after dark. Dave Calhoun meets him.
‘Enter the Void’ hasn’t caused as much of a storm as ‘Irréversible’.
‘No, not so much. Some of the more hateful reviews have focused on the penis ejaculating at the end of the film or on the abortion scene. Or else they say it is porn or too long. The criticism is not as focused as when “Irréversible” came out. With that film, over half of the review would be about the rape scene.’
Did that bother you?
‘It’s reductive, but then so many people heard about “Irréversible” because of this. Even now I can’t take a cab without the cab driver knowing what the movie’s about, or if a cop asks for my ID there’s one chance out of two that he has seen my film.’
After ‘Irréversible’, were people expecting to be shocked again by your new film?
‘It can cause a backlash, a sort of a comedown. After having a violent movie, people say, “Oh what’s coming next? Is it going to be worse?” It’s funny how people perceive these things. In fact, with my first film, “Seul Contre Tous”, I don’t think the killing scene at the end is worse than when a man beats up a pregnant woman. And I don’t think the rape in “Irréversible” is worse than the killing scene.
‘In this film, there are two violent scenes, the car crash and when the main kid, Oscar, gets shot. But I don’t think these scenes are as violent as in my two previous movies. There’s an abortion scene too, but in the script, we had the girl taking a pill. But we met with an abortionist in Japan and he told us that they do it with tongs in Japan and so we shot it that way. And people were very shocked.’
Why did you set the film in Tokyo?
‘I love Tokyo, the night life, the day life. They think they’re building a future, it’s not like they’re protecting the past like in Europe. I thought of shooting it in France or in New York, but I decided that the best place was Tokyo because the guy is a drug dealer and the repression against drugs there is strong. Also, the city is futuristic: you think of “Blade Runner” or “Akira”. In some areas you think you’re in a huge pinball machine, it’s noisy and bright.’
One of the characters in ‘Enter the Void’ is reading ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead’. Was that an inspiration?
‘Many people think I’m Buddhist because I did this movie, but I’m not at all, I’m totally atheist. But, yes, the movie is based on the “Tibetan Book of the Dead” because the main character reads it before dying, so all his final dream, his dying dream, is based on its structure. In that book, they say your images become darker the closer you get to the end of your post-mortem trip.’
Most of the film exists within that trip. Was it hard to find the right way of filming that?
‘It was hard to have a script that makes sense to enough people and makes my movie as trippy as possible. Already people complain that it’s too much like a bad trip or something like that.
‘I would actually complain that the movie is too structured. Originally I wanted the flashbacks to be more like “21 Grams”, to have different layers of time where you jump from one time to the other. I couldn’t manage to do something that made sense in time before we started shooting, so I came back to having a very chronological order to the main character’s flashbacks. I think I would never have got the money to do the movie if I’d made a more experimental film.’
You don’t take yourself too seriously. Do you like to have fun with these dark stories?
‘I want things to be funny, like in “Irréversible” when I called the gay club The Rectum, I thought it was funny. Even in the new one, there are scenes that could be taken seriously, but they are funny too. There are not many people who try to scare you and also undermine themselves. When you see “Straw Dogs” or “Deliverance”, there is no humour, although I like both those movies. Maybe more serious people have a more dramatic approach to life, while mine is more childish.’
I hear you want to make a porn movie next. Maybe in 3D.
‘Yeah, yeah. The only issue that’s going to be important is: where can you show a movie that is arousing? Even in festivals, I think programmers might be too scared of having a film that makes people horny. It’s going to be a debate: how can you show those movies now the porn theatres have all gone?’
Read our review of Enter the Void
Author: Interview: David Jenkins
Director Tom Hooper and his cast tell us how they turned the super-musical into movie blockbuster.
The Time Out film team weighs in on the nominees for the 2013 Academy Awards
Get ready for the big guns… Spielberg, Tarantino and Bigelow
Daniel Craig’s 007 comeback, a genius indie romcom and all the mysteries behind ‘The Shining’ unravelled.
The results of our study on the state of films and filmgoing in 2012.
Read 'Time Out film debate 2012 highlights'
'The Hobbit' actor tells us why he wouldn't have a pint with Bilbo Baggins.
Dave Calhoun speaks to the director of 'Skyfall' about the latest film in the Bond franchise.
The genre-hopping director tells us how he invented a new genre with 'Life of Pi'
The twice Palme d'Or-winning director discusses 'Amour'.
Read our interview with Michael Haneke
The Danish director talks about his powerful new drama 'The Hunt'.
Read our interview with Thomas Vinterberg'
Time Out looks back at the impact of the 'Twilight' saga.
Discover what 'Twilight' has done for us
Time Out heads to the Lake District to visit director Ben Wheatley on set.
Read about our visit to the 'Sightseers' set
The director talks about 'Frankenweenie', which he describes as 'the ultimate memory piece'.
Read our interview with Tim burton
Our pick of the best films showing over the festive period.
Read 'The top ten Christmas films of 2012'
Mean Girls? Dirty Dancing? Tell us your favourite film guilty pleasure.
Read 'Film guilty pleasures'
What will Disney do to 'Star Wars'?
Read about the new 'Star Wars' trilogy
Ten young actors come of age on the silver screen.
Read 'When teen stars turn serious'
From Connery to Craig, we revisit all 22 Bond films.
Read '50 years of James Bond'
The director talks Scientology and working with Joaquin Phoenix.
Read the interview
Ten funny horror movies which went spectacularly off the rails.
Read 'Hilarious horror films'
The director talks psychopaths and theatre – 'my least favourite artform'.
Read the interview
We round-up the five best horror movies of Autumn 2012.
Read about this Autumn's best horror movies
Time Out visits Istanbul to see the latest Bond movie being made.
Read 'On the set of Skyfall'
Does Skyfall refresh or rehash the James Bond franchise?
The British director explains why 'Ginger and Rosa' is her most mainstream film yet.
'I’m almost as in demand as Brad Pitt’