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Enter the Void PDF Print E-mail
Written by Sheila Seacroft   
25 09 2010

ImageDirected by Gaspar No

You know you're in for a punishing time from the moment the credits blast themselves across the screen, loud, shuddering, flashing, names blinkingly glimpsed rather than read. Come and watch me if you're hard enough. Hours afterwards I was still struggling from the experience of 155 minutes of what almost amounts to hallucinatory trip. Birth copulation and death: that's all the facts, when it comes to brass tacks', said Eliot. And here No's written them all large and painful. Using mind-blowing (or as one critic had it, mind-fucking) techniques, the camera swoops, slides, soars and penetrates drugged minds, bodies, and most of all the bleak streets of Tokyo, from its grimmest corners to its exhilarating but menacing light and colour.

We begin inside the head of an American addict, the narrative opens out to his sister and other associates as dreams and memories, hallucinations, out of body experiences, death moments and birth moments, and lots of sex, viscously flow to make connections which are mostly Freudian, but also a nod towards the immortality of the soul according to that old potheads' favourite the Tibetan Book of the Dead. Here is a life experienced and remembered, chopped up and with the focus rambling from past to future to dream images. That the characters are mostly repellent or intensely irritating does not really matter in the end, in fact the banality of the individuals somehow makes it more of a ride. The narrative, such as it is, throbs along irregularly with its own perverse momentum. Joyful and harrowing images jostle, the ugly becomes beautiful, or rather things are simultaneously both. It's a bleak view of humanity living life which is mostly pain and loss, often almost unwatchable, not for the queasy, (nor those with epilepsy it must be said), but also at times utterly gorgeous, especially the trip' images which look like unknown sea creatures or microscope-viewed organisms, dancing and exploding in colour. Turn off your mind and float downstream - but never relax. This film is hard work, uncategorisable, something to be experienced rather than watched, if you have the stomach. But at the same time it's an astounding, gorgeous example of the visceral power of cinema.

Seen at Black Nights Film Festival, Tallinn, 2 December 2009

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