Enter The Void
is Gaspar Noé
's 2009 film. Described by Noé as a "psychedelic melodrama," the film opens with Oscar living in Tokyo, supporting himself by dealing drugs, against the advice of his sister Linda and friend Alex. Alex attempts to turn Oscar toward spirituality with The Tibetan Book of the Dead, as opposed to drug abuse, which Alex claims will "fry (his) brain". The first act follows Oscar's nightly routine through strict point-of-view shots, including momentary blackouts to represent blinking, and extended sequences of drug-induced hallucination.
Oscar and Alex leave the apartment to deliver drugs to Oscar's friend Victor. On the way, Alex explains parts of The Tibetan Book of the Dead aloud to Oscar: how the spirit of a dead person sometimes will stay among the living until it begins to experience nightmares, after which it will attempt to reincarnate. Then Oscar arrives at the bar The Void, and just as he sits down with Victor, the police come to swarm the place. Oscar is chased down into the washroom stalls, where he desperately tries to flush away his incriminating drugs.
He gets shot.
We view it all from his viewpoint, as his spirit rises from his body and watches over the events which follow.
Enter the Void contains examples of the following tropes:
- All Just a Dream: At one point, Oscar wakes up in the morgue and is taken home by Linda and Alex, who are disgusted by his appearance. After a while, Alex tells Oscar to remember that he was cremated. Linda immediately wakes up, saying she had "another dream" about Oscar being alive. Essentially, Oscar flew into Linda's head and watched her own dream along with her.
- One interpretation of the ending.
- Anachronic Order: Oscar flashes back and forth from his past to the present.
- Bi the Way: Linda.
- Big Bad Friend: Victor turns on Oscar, leading to his death.
- Blipvert: The opening credits. Noé made the credits in this style since the film was nearly three hours and he wanted to get through "as fast as possible and as graphic as possible." Quentin Tarantino even called those the best opening credits to a movie, ever.
- Blood Oath
- Brick Title Drop and Book Ends: The film proper begins with the word "ENTER" filling the screen. At the film's very end, the words "THE" and "VOID" are shown in the same manner.
- Fridge Brilliance: As a soul, Oscar recaps his life from the end until the beginning. And in the beginning, there was... the void.
- Broken Bird: Linda, especially after Oscar dies.
- Brother-Sister Incest: Heavily implied to be the case between Oscar and his sister since he watches her sleep (in the nude no less) and the fact that he is repeatedly shown watching her dance in the strip club. There are also several instances where she kisses him and it's a little more than a peck on the cheek. Aside from that, Oscar flies into the bodies of her lovers while she has sex with them, watching the act from their POV's. He even flies inside of her at the climax and we get an inside view of her vagina during intercourse.
- Call Back: The song that ends Irreversible, "The End", plays over the closing credits that begin this film.
- Came Back Wrong: Linda has a nightmare in which this happens to Oscar.
- Censor Steam: Every sexual act in the Love Hotel is somewhat obscured by glowing, smokey energy waves around the genitalia.
- Cessation of Existence: Another possible explanation for the ending.
- Country Matters: Alex calls Oscar one while trying to convince Alex that he's only imagining himself as being alive again.
- Crapsack World: As expected from Gasper Noé. The film is dark, everyone ends up dead or broken, and nothing seems to have gotten better by the end of the film.
- Deranged Animation: There is a lot of CGI animation, although it may not be noticeable since all characters are live action.
- Depth Of Field / Fish Eye Lens: Oscar's POV sometimes has this effect.
- Design Student's Orgasm: The opening credits features everyone's name in dramatic, colourful logos. When it gets to the cast, every name gets delirious, seizure-inducing animations in all styles imaginable.
- Drone of Dread: Oscar's POV takes this form, particularly after his death as he "chases" Alex through the streets.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Oscar and Linda's parents.
- Dying Dream: It's possible It Was All Just A Dream Oscar is having as he dies.
- Epic Tracking Shot: At one point, the camera flies out of a window up into a plane, then all the way back down and into a taxi cab.
- Epileptic Flashing Lights: You will not want to see this film if you have photosensitive epilepsy.
- The opening credits is essentially two full minutes of seizure-inducing strobing.
- Shortly after Oscar dies, his soul floats up into the lightbulb above the toilet, where the entire screen flickers whitish-yellow for 90 full seconds.
- Oscar's sister having sex with a strip club owner and subsequently getting the call about Oscar's death starts with regular lighting but quietly transitions into full-on strobing over the course of the scene's 9 minutes.
- As Oscar's journey continues, his perspective incorporates more and more time-altering strobes, which have a similar effect to X-Ray Vision.
- This goes without mentioning the Japanese street signs and strobing club lights which pervade the film. Even ordinary lightbulbs flicker with varying intensities.
- Everybody Has Lots of Sex: The climax (no pun intended) of the film involves Oscar floating through a Love Motel, witnessing several acts. Additionally, almost every main character has an affair or a lover.
- Face-Heel Turn: Victor to Oscar, after Victor finds out about Oscar's affairs with his mum.
- The Faceless: Subverted. We know what Oscar looks like because he looks at himself in the mirror at the start of the film, but during all of the flashbacks, the camera is always behind him, showing only his shoulders and the back of the head to the audience.
- Fetal Position Rebirth: Yet another explanation for the ending is that Oscar gets reincarnated as his sister's baby.
- Flash Back: Roughly half the movie consists of flashbacks as Oscar watches his life flash before his eyes.
- Flashback Cut: Integrated seamlessly into the narrative: not only does every cut find an analog with another event in Oscar's life, but the cuts themselves happen in the same manner that the blinking does in the P.O.V. Cam of the first act of the film.
- Gainax Ending: As one can gather from this page, the ending has a lot of interpretations. After graphically showing Linda's vagina being filled with semen and a sperm fertilizing her ovum, the film cuts to Oscar being born. The P.O.V. Cam at this point is justifiably entirely blurry, so the identity of the mother (either Oscar's actual mother, or Linda) is unknowable. Of course, it may be All Just a Dream, as Oscar was high on DMT when he got shot and could have been imagining the last two hours of the film.
- Genre Savvy: A tripping Oscar advises himself to avoid balconies and railings.
- Go Into the Light: Oscar's soul tries this as soon as he dies. It ends up being the light in the bathroom stall where he was shot. He realizes this shortly thereafter.
- Good Bad Girl: Linda.
- Good Girls Avoid Abortion: Averted at first with Linda, who gets one after she's gotten pregnant by the strip club owner early on. Played straight later on when she gets pregnant by Alex, then apparently has a baby at the end whom Oscar may (or may not) have incarnated into.
- Homage: The psychedelic colors and extreme experience of it all reflects upon Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- I Gave My Word: Despite his problems, Oscar promised he would always be there for Linda no matter what. And if he is indeed reincarnated into Linda and Alex's baby at the end, he definitely has made good on his word.
- Jump Scare: Notable in that the film uses the exact same one three times and each time, it's rather effective.
- Kick the Dog: Played straight with Victor, when he tries to lay some of the blame on Linda for Oscar's death because she always hung around creeps. Subverted when Linda, who is definitely not in the best emotional state, angrily tells Victor to go kill himself.
- Medium Blending: Noé has said that every shot in the film was augmented by CGI. Additionally, the film features a multitude of seamlessly blended helicopter, crane, CG and handheld tracking shots.
- Mind Screw: Drug trips and a spiritual journey all from one, single POV is bound to look trippy.
- Mind Rape: It's possible that Oscar possesses various people in the film, including his sister's lover.
- Mood Motif
- Mood Whiplash: The happy scenes and lullaby version of Bach's "Air on a G String" that occurs right before Oscar's parents die in a car crash. Twice.
- Mushroom Samba: Oscar's drug trip which we see from his POV. It's probably one of the more realistic trips shown on film.
- Ms. Fanservice: Paz de la Huerta, and how. The stripper scenes are just the tip of the iceberg.
- No Ending: The film simply stops after Oscar is shown being born.
- Nothing Is Scarier
- Once More with Clarity: The barely visible astral cloud in the bathroom light bulb is shown repeatedly in a variety of ways throughout the film and finally gets an explanation at the end of the film: it's reincarnation itself. Or just semen.
- The Oner: Oscar being woken up by Alex, taking a walk through the streets to The Void and getting busted by the police is all one 16-minute shot, despite being obscured a bit by the blinking of the P.O.V. Cam.
- Pay Evil unto Evil: Victor initially had this in mind when he turned on Oscar but quickly realizes it was Disproportionate Retribution.
- P.O.V. Cam: Used extensively in the first 25 minutes or so of the film. But after Oscar is killed the film is mostly shot from behind a characters head or from a top-down perspective.
- Re Cut: Noé recut the film himself for the United States and the United Kingdom by effectively removing the seventh reel (out of nine) of footage. This cuts the film's run time from 161 minutes to 137, by removing "some astro-visions, an orgy scene with Linda and the Japanese girl, [and] the scene where you see [Oscar] waking up at the morgue and he thinks he's alive but he's not, and then the camera goes down the plughole where she's tipping his ashes." In a positive example of this trope, Noé mentioned that the removal of this footage has no impact whatsoever on the narrative and that it was a contractual obligation with the film's investors to have an alternate edit ready if the film went longer than 140 minutes. Both cuts are packaged together on the DVD and Blu-ray.
- Retirony: Oscar was planning to stop dealing drugs just before he died.
- Rule of Symbolism: The events which Oscar perceives after being shot is loosely based upon his reading of the Tibetan Book of the Dead.
- Sensory Abuse: Aside from the Epileptic Flashing Lights, various sounds also play a role in the movie's tone.
- The top-down camera shots are an homage to Brian De Palma's use of the same technique in the film SnakeEyes.
- The ambient score of the film was assembled from existing music and sound sources by Thomas Bangalter in a way that is reminiscent of "Revolution 9".
- Shown Their Work: Oscar's DMT-induced drug trip at the start of the film is based on Noé's own experience with the drug.
- Stream Of Consciousness: As expected form the POV nature of the movie.
- They Should Have Sent A Poet: Oscar is silent during his trip, leading the viewer through a long series of visuals, often with no dialogue.
- Tragic Mistake: Oscar makes quite a few, leading up to his death.
- Trippy Finale Syndrome: Also has a trippy beginning and middle.
- Vader Breath: While Oscar is dying, he breathes heavily.
- Your Cheating Heart: Oscar has an affair with his friend's mother. It's possible his sister also cheats on her boyfriend with Alex, depending on how you interpret the timeline of events and how much of the film is real.