A very, very loose and highly symbolic adaptation of The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Gaspar Noé's Enter the Void is both a lame fusion of stoner lifestyle, sexual fetish, and philosophical inquiry, and a technical achievement that can't be as easily dismissed. Oscar (Nathaniel Brown) is a young, drug-dealing American in Tokyo with an unusually close relationship to his stripper sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta), and a taste for the chemical hallucinogen DMT. For the majority of the film, we see what Oscar sees. When he's relatively lucid, this means POV shots with his head shaking and eyes blinking (creating a strobe effect that ties into the film's overall rave- and/or strip-club-sourced palette and rhythms); when Oscar gets high, Noé plunges us deep into his hallucinations. Eventually the camera assumes the perspective of Oscar's spirit—floating over, and permeating the walls and roofs of, a Tokyo that appears to be a mix of practical sets, digital effects, and full-on animation. Noé knows from base urges, but his ability to imbue a character with realistic life starts and stops with that character's physical needs and desires. Void may, in the end, be an extremely elaborate formal exercise about every man's desire to crawl back into the womb, turned up a loud notch visually and adapted into every brother's apparently latent compulsion to impregnate his sister. But, dude: I could stare at this movie for days and not get tired of the sensation.
Past memories: Brown and de la Huerta.
Runs at Northwest Film Forum, Fri., Oct. 8–Thurs., Oct. 14. Not Rated. 156 minutes.