Hype usually never goes hand in hand with the film , sometimes the time taken kinda wears you out. But with Gaspar Noe one can trust his camera . Such is his profound ability to stick to aesthetics , such is his camera wizardry.
I still remember in clarity the time when the infamous celebrity nude scene of Monica Bellucci in Irreversible being passed on among all the peer hormones. It was deemed as a sick, revolting piece and no one is supposed to feel horny or happy or hornily happy about it. If they do , they ‘re concluded as sick. But still silently it was passed on. Passed on to be watched by many . Many to come and go. An addiction. Film can lure you to feel provoked . That is when Noe was a secret vice in my film collection. He was the heaviest drug in my film addiction. I went on to see all his earlier works(not only the nude scenes) right from his short (Sodomites), his middle (Carne) then his features I Stand Alone ,Irreversible and what made me go awe on him was his uncompromised aesthetic vision.
With so many influences from Theater , the sudden comfort found in films made it a little too easy for film-makers to set the rules. But film wasn’t supposed to be like it at all. It was/is (and hopefully remains) a visual narrative in its true, pure sense . But directors seemed to take advantage of editing techniques, clever writers and narrators , that the true aesthetic value of filmdom was slowly beginning to fade. When things are narrated visually with only sounds its almost like reading a visual book leaving majority preserved and un-influenced. Kubrick made sure there were such sequences in his works. A specific one being the stargate sequence in 2001 which with no doubt has heavily influenced Noe in The Void.
2009 saw three releases from three rebels in Film.
Haneke’s The White Ribbon, Von Trier’s Antichrist and Noe’s Enter The Void.
All 3 polarized/provoked crowds in three different ways. The White Ribbon positively in some and confused in others (some found it dull) –polarized intelligence . Antichrist in majority disgusted everyone, but that was Von Trier’s point- polarized morality and finally the most flashy of all the provocateurs, Noe‘s Enter the Void – polarized film theory (aesthetics and purpose) in itself.
A drug syringe, Enter the Void is. Reading so many reviews about The Void , I came about a lot of interesting ways they have seen Noe and his film-making vision. Manohla Dargis calls it an astral plane trip. Some say he was a shock poet in Irreversible and now he has taken a point to tediously show off.
But when self flattery exceeds a limit the artist is lost in his art , he is controlled by it rather than being in control of it. Noe is no doubt an artist , just like his father (a painter). Coming to France at the age of 12 from Argentina it is no surprise he was heavily influenced by the former more than anything . Interestingly, he had been writing the Void along with I Stand Alone(early 90s). That means it was scripted a very long time back. It was The FILM for him(shocking vision) .
Obvious money constraints, he made Irreversible , a runaway project made out of drinks in a bar and a random meet-up with Vincent Cassell . No scripts . No preparation. He (Noe ) just knew that it was a rape revenge film told through the sad futility that is , Time’s linearity. Dialogs were improvised by the actors and Noe created poetry . Now, Noe is the crown jewel among the French New Extremity.
Enter the Void deals with yet another futile theme, Death (guessing artists are attracted to futile subjects) with help from The Tibetan Book of the Dead. Noe’s interest in Freudian instincts became clear in his I Stand Alone and now clearly stands out in Oscar’s ethereal feelings for his sister Linda to be reincarnated with her life again. The teenage drug dealer and his strip dancing sister once part of a horrific accident where they lose both parents are now almost lost in an astral haze , assaulted continuously by strobe lights , reconstructing their child-like vision of things and forgetting whats toy-like and whats real in the trippiest of all of Tokyo’s nights.
Majority is shot through Oscar’s perspective in broadly 3 different ways. Initially when he is alive when the camera is his eyes, blinking / breathing and tripping along with him and his LSD hallucinations. Noe provides us with some out of the world visuals both visceral and vaginally suggestive in nature (highly implied). It seems man once born can’t wait to go back in.
He gets a call , a client , a boy actually , named Victor ( whose mother he has slept with) wants to meet him up at the Void , a seedy bar. Meanwhile,a friend comes home. After some stoner philosophy about this drug DMT which gives an insane 6-min trip ,his junkie-freelance-artist-friend Alex (Olly Alexander) talks about Death being the ultimate trip and explains to him about this book, The Tibetan Book of the Dead. It is believed that the soul after death wanders through lights and colours through to come back to life/ to reincarnate back with the person they love the most ,in a phantasmagoric trip (this is where it gets the horror-generics). Oscar listens to his all while he trips on acid initially until he reaches the Void only to know he has been set-up by Victor, gets shot in the toilet.
The second POV starts in recollection of memories, when the soul parts the entity and tries to relive its strong moments of life-altering/life-numbing . This time the camera is behind Oscar’s Head and behind in time. Story, if at all it needed one to be told, gains clarity. The siblings make a pact – not to be separated ever. It is not even until death do us part. It is beyond it. A voyage into infinity.
Until now the story holds promise to the runtime, but the third 3rd POV, when Oscar watches down from above, the life of all his fellow friends, puts you into a test of patience and Noe’s over indulgence in long-shots and a vigorous compulsion to show-off. But this was meant for psychedelics . He in fact called the genre, psychedelic melodrama . Final 45-minutes is purely meant to be experienced illegally which makes this film openly audacious in its intent, graphically-wrenching to watch and yet stands out a transcending cult.
People can still repeatedly shun the film calling it a practiced-show-off or gimmick film or intentionally made. But to hate someone’s guts is obvious and especially Noe’s,who has just more than his guts to show-off. He is sharing his highly intricate and still liberal vision by repeatedly provoking us. He paints in the process. He is both like the child who unnaturally behaves old and the old who naturally behaves like the child.
I surrender to see only awe in him, because he does Stand Alone.
Oscar:”Yeah . I guess so.”
“I was proposed many of the French movies you’ve seen lately, big budgets, and I said no. I had in mind this movie for many years, and I didn’t want to get off the track. Even Irreversible was just, how do you say, a bank robbery that I made in order to do this one, to test some cranes, visual effects, and digital postproduction. For me, Irreversible was more like an experience than a real movie. Between the moment we had the idea for the movie and the moment we started shooting it was like five weeks and then we were finished shooting in six weeks. But yes, everything that I was doing for the last few years was in order to get this one done. As I said, it was hard to do. There were many different companies that said they were going to roduce the movie, but then passed. I would be in the middle of making deals and then they would turn it down at the end because it’s difficult to have a movie with explicit sex scenes, no famous actors, etc.” -Noe