Gaspar Noe is not your typical filmmaker. He would obviously stand out in Hollywood because of his subject choices and his distinct style. Not a visual style that is the same throughout all his movies, but a sort of radical honesty and brutal directness present in his work.
Noe also doesn’t fit in the niche of independent filmmaking. For this group of filmmakers is exclusively centered on American film, with themes involving suburban families and meaningful road trips.
Finally he also rebels against being a foreign filmmaker by working on an English language production, Enter the Void. Gaspar Noe is an artist, his films are art films. They are not meant to solely entertain but also inspire and touch. Because of his individual approach to storytelling it is very difficult to review Enter the Void in a normal fashion.
Enter the Void tells the story of two orphaned siblings living in Tokyo. We start out with a really well done POV segment on the protagonist Oscar, the drug dealing brother. The real story starts when [spoilers] Oscar is shot by the Japanese police whilst seeing a client. From there on we are caught between scenes from the past (flashbacks with Oscar and his sister, them dealing with their parents death after a car crash) and scenes from the present, after Oscar’s death. The scenes in the present are shot from a bird-view perspective (Oscar is evidently still present) and track from one character to the other simultaneously showing us glimpses of the Tokyo underbelly.
It is strange that we should feel connected to the characters although they are distanced by choices of presenting the story, as we barely ever get a close-up or lasting shot on them. But one really does feel concerned with their diminish into the depressing crime and drugged up world of hell-like Tokyo. That is a great achievement.
Visually it is beautiful and emotionaly well executed. My only criticism with the film is its slow transitions from one point of view to the other. The film provides fresh material each time when it is obvious that the old perspective is wearing out, but the change is made a few minutes too late each time. This stretches the boundaries of what is interesting and what is boring, some might have walked out on the film during these times. On the contrary the film moves away from scenes that I felt would have been really interesting to pursue. An example for this is the much used bird-view segment, during which the camera is constantly moving between Tokyo’s buildings and streets. Something intersting you see during these takes is shown only briefly.
Otherwise the film moves along its storyline with an impecable visual skillfulness and impacts the viewer greatly.