As empty as its title would suggest, likely quite intentional, Enter the Void is indeed a void. There is nothing here and my comments may come with some extra sharpness due to my tremendous feeling of disappointment. You see Irreversible, director Gaspar Noe's second film, is one of my favorite movies ever made for all the reasons I've expressed before. Sometimes a filmmaker is most generative during his breakthrough and can never equal that success, and other times a filmmaker might bounce back with something lesser but work enough that they can care to learn from their mistakes. Noe's problems are that he doesn't work enough on feature films and also that his fans will welcome Enter the Void just for possessing Noe's dingy style and moments of legitimately shocking realistic shots. So really, what is there to improve when Noe's goal is to make a polarizing film to begin with? Aesthetically Noe is strong here but I expected that given his short films and music videos since Irreversible also possess that trademark style and appeal. However, unlike Irreversible, and even his first film I Stand Alone, Enter the Void lacks a truly coherent story, or even characters worth caring about. It's not that there isn't a story somewhere within the shock scenes hooking in the audience Noe has developed, it's just that the story was not compelling enough to draw me in. That may change for some viewers but I'm betting most will find Enter the Void tedious and gratuitous.
The film stars Nathanial Brown, from a first person point of view for the better part of the film, as an American named Oscar, a young man whose parents were killed in a brutal car crash with Oscar and his sister Linda in the backseat, watching and surviving. Oscar lives in Tokyo and will soon be reunited with his sister. Oscar deals drugs in Tokyo and Linda, after she settles in a little, quickly becomes involved in stripping. The story is a solid vehicle for Noe's style but without revealing spoilers I will say that there is certainly room for a more robust interpretation of the story then I would be willing to provide. So far the film has been extremely polarizing so I'm sure a more enthusiastic viewer can provide solid insights regarding Noe's greater intentions.
There is still potential for Noe to create better work but given the amount of time it took to find the concept and actually begin working on Enter the Void, I find this doubtful. I've had the patience to sit through films that claim to be meditations or cinematic experiences etc., but of those kinds of films I've enjoyed they hooked me in with strong overtones. Because Enter the Void didn't hook me in, its rampant use of sex and nudity seemed out of place and completely unnecessary. Visually though Enter the Void is still stunning and provides us with a very different perspective on the Japanese capital. It's an aesthetic achievement and I can always appreciate it when an artist maintains his own distinct style over time, especially when that artist is talented, innovative, and unconventional. Of all the praise and hate this film is receiving I'm offering a neutral recommendation.