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Enter The Void review

The corpse of a young man lies foetal and final, curled around the toilet bowl in a Tokyo drug dive.

This was Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), an American-born petty dealer, cornered and shot by twitchy cops.

The blood puddling around his crumpled body is laced with hallucinogens. Oscar is a lowlife who died high, leaving behind Linda (Paz de la Huerta), the stripper sister he'd pledged to support after their childhoods were checked by the death of their parents.

Most films would now cut to the remaining living characters as they sift through the aftermath. But Gaspar Noe is not most filmmakers.

Instead, he swirls his lens down through the ruptured flesh and bone and burrows into the soul - and, in time, the heart - of his departed anti-hero...

We then snap into permanent POV-o-Vision, as Oscar's spirit soars above the neon-rinsed metropolis; snooping and swooping into every alleyway and aperture, lurching through the kaleidoscopic hustle like an ethereal pinball.

As his character slips the bonds of bodily limitation, so Noe revels in the cinematic liberation. He skips from place to place, time to time, alighting on both personal flashbacks and interloping through his characters' inner and outer lives.

Oscar's supercharged omniscience serves as a thrilling new form of narrative.

As the story unspools, so he evolves - using his stereoscopic insight to ponder past errors and terrors; to play detective (confirming the betrayal that led to his death); to revisit the grisly moment he and Linda were orphaned; and eventually, to gently correct his sister's torment and alchemise regret into redemption.

It's an audacious, out-of-body experience that only misfires when Noe loses focus on the emotional centre and insists we marvel at an overlong drug-fried CGI lightshow or delivers the fridge-nuking final money-shot.

But beyond the daft comparisons with 2001, this is a mature film from a director who's morphing from eye-rolling agitator into eye-catching artist.

Noe's 2002 breakout Irreversible transcended its notorious rape centrepiece as a tarnished fable on the futility of revenge.

For those whose inner ear can endure the swaying Steadicam, Enter The Void rewards as a compassionate meditation on a refreshingly agnostic central idea: every human life, however squalid or tragic or amoral, deserves to be celebrated.

Sex and drugs, heart and soul. A hypnotic headfuck with a humane afterglow. You'll only see it once; but once seen, never forgotten.

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