ENTER THE VOID (Gaspar Noé). 137 minutes. Opens today (Thursday December 30) at the TIFF Bell Lightbox. See Times. Rating: NN
In the annals of European provocateurs, Gaspar Noé is a mere footnote compared to directors like Michael Haneke and Lars von Trier. Noé offers gimmicky portraits of one-dimensional ugliness that can be shrugged off fairly easily. You might cringe during I Stand Alone and Irreversible, but you won't carry their horrors with you.
Noé's latest, Enter The Void, is just as ugly and cruel as his previous features but comes coated in a sheen of psychedelia and spirituality. The whole thing is presented from the point of view of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a young drug dealer whom we meet tripping balls in his Tokyo apartment before he's shot dead 20 minutes into the picture.
Don't worry, there are still two hours to go. Oscar's soul is free to float around, flash back over his life and peep in on his stripper sister (Paz de la Huerta) as she has a series of unpleasant sexual encounters - because no Noé project is complete without several protracted scenes of a woman weeping.
The director pretends to greater depth - a friend of Oscar's helpfully summarizes The Tibetan Book Of The Dead to clue us in to the movie's structure - but he's still playing in the shallow end. If you're chasing a hallucinogenic, unconventional narrative experience, 2001: A Space Odyssey is still playing a couple of screens over in the Lightbox.