Enter the Void / Gaspar Noé / 2010 / onestar

Active ingredients: Bright colors
Side effects: Empty provocation; Horrific images; Bad acting; Half-baked ideas

In Enter the Void, provocateur Gaspar Noé wages all out war on the senses, intelligence and good taste. The film begins, after a retina-searing, seizure-inducing credit sequence, with a hallucination. Our exceedingly bland protagonist smokes strong drugs in his neon-soaked room and drifts away. The long scene of abstract shapes and colors that follows is the best part of the film. It’s like the iTunes visualizer on a higher budget. After that, our hero wanders through more neon-soaked streets, gets shot, dies, becomes a spirit and drifts through scenes of his life and his beloved sister’s future.

This is shock value cinema of the worst kind. Noé shows us brutal scenes of violence, squalor and depravity, then repeats them over and over. There’s no hope in all this suffering, and no message, subtly or wisdom either. Noé aspires to depict the afterlife in all its complexity, but musters no more than freshman year Freudianism and the Cliff notes to the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It would be laughable if it weren’t so excruciating to watch.