Enter the Void

4 out of 5 stars
Enter the Void

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

The mind-fucking starts immediately: End credits run backward over flashing strobe lights and punishing sonic droning. Then come the opening credits---seriously---whizzing by at warp speed in what seems like 197 different variations of a neon font. (Had the movie ended there, viewers would still feel as if they've seen something totally unique and mind-blowing.) A hellish vision of Tokyo, all woozy psychedelic colors and bad-moon-rising vibes, greets us; it takes a second to register that we're seeing Linda (De la Huerta), the knockout brunet lounging on a balcony, solely through the shakycam first-person viewpoint of her brother, Oscar (Brown). After he---and by extension, we---marvel at jellyfish-like apparitions dancing before our DMT-warped eyes, it's time to go on a narcotics-related errand with a gravel-voiced Frenchman (Roy). Alert filmgoers will have picked up on references to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. The allusion is not a coincidence.

A strong contender for both the artiest drug movie and the druggiest art movie ever made, Gaspar No's tour de force of forced perspectives and free-form grief is, in every sense of the word, a trip. (Lots of films get the "such-and-such on acid" tag. This one actually earns it.) Its hallucinogenic imagery and the virtuosity with which the camera dives through bullet holes and into birth canals wouldn't be half as wowie-zowie, however, were they not being used to explore the connection between trauma and innocence with such scuzz-spiritual tenderness. It's so near to being No's masterpiece that you wish he'd controlled his compulsion to repeat every shock and stimulation until numbness sets in, or recognized when he stepped outside the middle ground between artistry and assault. Asking the director of Irreversible for restraint, however, is like requesting David Mamet clean up his language. And had Enter the Void been cured of No's excesses, we might not have that pitch-perfect climax---a Buddhist punch line that leaves you dazed, elated and absolutely awestruck. 

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