Gaspar Noe's Enter the Void is a hallucinogenic, alternately dreamy and nightmarish trip trough various states of consciousness, some of them drug induced, others unleashed by the free-association of the subconcious. Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) lives in Tokyo and is turning from drug user to dealer. The extra money enables him to reunite with his sister, whom he has mostly been separated from since childhood when their parents died. As one of his drug trips spirals out of control, his mind — and the camera that seems to sit on his shoulder — takes off on a two-plus hour long journey. It's full of bright and lurid eye candy, from Tokyo's flashing lights to pulsating strip clubs to the love hotels the city is famous for. As Oscar seems to float above all the raw desire and desperation around him, the film repeatedly flashes back on his life and the strange events that have lead up to his reunion with sister Linda (Paz de la Huerta), who has become a stripper.
An Argentine born Frenchmen, Noe has often spun stories around horrible violence, like the rape and assault in Irreversible (2002). Enter the Void also has graphic moments, but it doesn't follow a narrative. The hallucinogenic stints are interwoven with the cascading memories and sentiments Oscar's psyche exhumes. Viewers adverse to stream of consciousness, drug films or psychedelia likely won't enjoy the trip. But this 2009 Cannes feature is an absorbing free fall into a nexus of desire, love, jealousy, rage and a range of constructive and destructive behaviors people resort to when trying to connect with one another or avoid feelings of emptiness and isolation. The film indulges in flashy and gaudy escapism and it doesn't sort much out, but it also doesn't hold back from wading into all the emotional complexity at stake. It opens at Chalmette Movies Friday.