Gaspar Noé was high on magic mushrooms when he came up with the style for his latest film ‘Enter the Void’.  He was watching Robert Montgomery‘s ‘Lady in the Lake‘, based on Raymond Chandler‘s brilliant novel.  In the film, Montgomery, who also starred as Philip Marlowe, used the camera as a first person Point Of View, to tell the story, something which had been seen briefly before, in the opening sequence of Rouben Mamoulian‘s ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde‘.  The tripped-out Noé saw in Montgomery’s vision a way to make the ultimate filmic sensory experience.  The result is ‘Enter the Void‘.

Noé’s tale may have been inspired by Montgomery’s clever approach to film-making, but it is more reminiscent of Jonas Åkerlund‘s banned, ground-breaking promo ‘Smack My Bitch Up‘ made in 1997 for The Prodigy, where a night of drink, drugs, sex and violence is seen from the POV of the central character.  Indeed there is some similarity between Åkerlund’s genius originality and Noe’s breath-taking style in his latest film.

Enter the Void‘ is a psychedelic head trip that follows the life and death of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a American small time drug dealer adrift in Tokyo, who is fatally shot in a police raid.  The camera then becomes Oscar’s POV as his spirit/memory/soul, recalling key events in his life and death, as he comforts his sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta).

The film is a visual feast, akin to Kenneth Anger‘s ‘Inauguration of the Pleasuredom‘, Stanley Kubrick‘s ‘2001‘ and promos directed by Åkerlund and Jonathan Glazer. However, its mix of beauty and horror (a car crash and an abortion feature prominently), has divided critics.  This is unlikely to trouble Noé, whose last film, the shockingly brutal ‘Irrevérsible‘, was described as “one of the most disturbing and controversial films of 2002”, that took “an adolescent pride in its own ugliness”, with its depiction of rape and murder.

Noé is an exceptional film-maker, and ‘Enter the Void‘ will further establish his reputation as a director who can infect the mind and imagination with his disturbing, and shockingly original vision.