Two hours and a half. That’s how long Enter the Void, the new film by Gaspar Noe, lasts. The world premiere for Noe’s film took place in a packed Lumiere theatre, and I get the feeling that people applauded themselves for managing to hang on until the end of the film. Noe’s approach was a lot more clear in his previous films; he created a universe and invited us in.
“Enter the Void” is a departure from that, but with some stylistical elements recycled ad nauseam, voyeuristic tendencies and an obsessive quest for esthetic which eventually overshadows any useful attempt at filmmaking.
The film’s flaws are Noe’s choice of young New Yorker Paz La Huerta as Linda, an aggrieved sister who loses her parents, and then later, her brother. I had seen La Huerta in Jim Jarmusch’s The Limits of Control and already wondered, and feared, whether there might be more of her to come at the movies. La Huerta is not a good candidate for a leading role. She’s not a good candidate for a role, period. Unfortunately for us, indie filmmakers are always grateful, apparently, when they can find a complete unknown who will agree to bare all but hasn ‘t been in porn. I am obviously assuming that La Huerta hasn’t done porn.
But the fact that there are multiple nude scenes in Enter is not her responsibility; Noe, presumably since he’s the director, demands it. And he seems to have an insatiable appetite for showing flesh on the big screen, as well as drug-taking, two of the most boring elements in narrative which seem to have had a lasting effect on Noe. After taking the pulse on the croisette, the consensus is clear: Enter the Void, shown in competition this year at Cannes, discredits Gaspar Noe. At the end of the film, just when everyone thought it was over and boos could be heard across the theatre (with Noe present), sketchy images reappeared on the screen; was Noe having fun with his audience? One final, useless sequence rolled past and, confusion reigning, a standing ovation followed mixed with some more booing.
De la Huerta looked a little quizzical and embarrassed, perhaps having second thoughts about making the movie (or showing so much of herself) or curious about the mixed reaction among the audience.