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Memoirs of a Gaijin

MOVIE REVIEW
Enter the Void (2010)

Enter-the-void-gaspar-noe-paz-de-la-huerta
IFC Films

“Vous avez 30 secondes pour abandoner la projection de ce film,” the title card’s boldface lettering and countdown rudely interrupted the proceedings of Gaspar Noé’s “I Stand Alone” before the climactic murder/suicide/incest. Sure, it was gimmicky, but the intensity of what ensued totally merited the warning. His follow-up, “Irreversible,” started out bracingly with the fire-extinguisher bludgeoning and the underpass rape, but ultimately fizzled due to its reverse chronology. Although Mr. Noé’s latest, “Enter the Void,” follows a more conventional time line, it unfortunately turns out to be just as anticlimactic.

Mr. Noé’s stunt du jour is the P.O.V., and moviegoers experience the entire narrative through the perspective of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a small-time drug dealer in Tokyo. Some years earlier, Oscar’s parents died in a horrific car accident, effectively separating him and his sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta). When he settles down in Tokyo, they are just a one-way airfare from a long-awaited reunion. Upon her arrival, she immediately finds work as a stripper. Sofia Coppola, eat your heart out.

The shocker is that Oscar dies quite early on in a police bust, so the rest of the film is seen through the viewpoint of his ghost. Sure, “Enter the Void” has its share of gratuitous stomach churners such as a graphic abortion and a sexual intercourse seen from inside the vagina. But those are not enough to sustain the 154-minute run time.

Its plot supposedly follows the Buddhist belief of a spirit’s journey from death to reincarnation, but Mr. Noé’s juxtaposition of lofty religious philosophy with self-serious confrontations of taboos reeks of pretension. The film begins with a banging title sequence, and remains riveting through its visual representation of someone tripping on drugs. By the time the protagonist’s disembodied spirit finally drifts to a euphoric state just prior to his rebirth, the film has become so excruciating that you no longer care about Mr. Noé’s innovations.

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