Gaspar Noe's film Enter the Void peels back the layers of a drug addict's psyche in order to illustrate the beauty and brutality of human life---

Imagine if we could literally peer into an individual's conscious mind and watch the images unfold just as if we were watching a movie. What we see might frighten or disturb us, and would—at the very least—be incredibly difficult for us to decipher.

There would probably be little logic or order to the imagery. A distant childhood memory might pop up one minute only to be replaced by scenes from a recent sexual encounter the next. Disjointed and chaotic as such individual perceptions might seem, the resulting whole would offer a fascinating case study into how the human mind works.

This is essentially the premise of Gaspar Noe's new film Enter the Void. In it, a teenage drug addict (Nathaniel Brown) is shot to death in Tokyo only to come back to life as a disembodied spirit to watch over his sister (Paz de la Huerta).

That being said, it’s best to go into Enter the Void with as little information about the content as possible. Just as separate witnesses might remember a single event differently, Enter the Void will likely elicit contradictory explanations from distinct viewers. The film defies precise description.

Enter the Void is raw, disturbing and graphic in equal measure. It illuminates the blurred lines where violence and sexuality meet art through an unflinching lens. It veers from the cosmically beautiful to the fascinatingly grotesque in a heartbeat. If there is an underlying message, it seems to be that life is a savage array of random events that never lets up for even the briefest of moments.

These events, as portrayed in the film, are difficult to watch at times. This is due not only to the content, but to the cinematography as well—most of the film is shot from a first person perspective that floats freely through space.

Those who are prone to bouts of dizziness or epileptic seizures should probably not see the film. Those who enjoy innovative filming techniques or staring at neon-hued black light posters for hours should be thoroughly impressed.

Enter the Void may be the closest feature length cinema has ever come to portraying the inner workings of the human mind, but it is also uncomfortably obscene at times and generally devoid of purpose at others.

The film provokes the question, where do we draw the line between art and voyeuristic pornography?

In the end, viewers will undoubtedly walk out of Enter the Void satisfied that they have seen something they've never seen before. One wonders, though, if they were ever meant to see it at all.

(Enter the Void was only screened for 1 week in Santa Fe at The Screen).

Enter the Void
160 min.
Available through IFC On Demand