The word 'brave' is almost always abused to describe directors that show more explicit perversion than they have to, or pointlessly explore taboo subjects
with no insights to add. Gaspar Noé on the other hand, defines the term brave. He explores the desperation of humans that have sunk to such low levels
of depravity or amorality with such realism and character insight that his movies' only flaw is that they are too gut-wrenching. As such, they can be
taken as artistic cautionary tales, and they are guaranteed to polarize audiences, even eliciting simultaneous opposing reactions. A provocateur with
something to say, and definitely one to watch out for. More recently he has toned down his subject matter in more conventional but still highly
barefaced, raw or confrontational and always uncompromising movies.
A half-length, less developed precursor to I Stand Alone that tells the tale of the angry horse butcher from that movie who is left with a retarded
girl to bring up. Some small events cause him to suspect a man of molesting his daughter which sends him over the violent edge and into prison.
Like with I Stand Alone, the narration consists of raw, angry thoughts, and the brutal film pulls no punches, but the style and character is
In many ways, this is a continuation of Noé's themes and style, but in a new, psychedelic and slightly Buddhist package. Like Irreversible, this features
a few ruined lives, their back-stories unfolding this time through after-life flashbacks instead of in reverse. This two and a half hour movie is a first-person
point-of-view experience of a drug-addict in Tokyo and his whore sister that uses very impressive cinematic tricks, effects, colors, lights and sound. The first
part covers the setup, a very long psychedelic sequence as we experience the drugs with him, and a drug deal gone bad. The second part provides the after-death flashbacks,
fleshing out the characters and tragic back-stories made worse by a complete lack of responsibility, then there is life after death as he travels through time and
space witnessing more consequences, and finally, psychedelic explicit porn in a surreal sequence that blends a few plot points together, and an ironic karmic twist.
Of course, since this is Noé, we get to experience his vision of afterlife for extremely flawed humans in a seedy Tokyo world full of whores, drugs, clubs, brothels,
sleaze-bags and flashing lights. I can't say I liked or agreed with his limited vision and it goes on forever, but there is no denying his technique and the effect
of this movie. Somehow, he has come up with a movie and script that justifies a graphic abortion, porn and a viewpoint from inside a vagina. So, once again, he has
created a movie that is both a must-see -once and unwatchable. I can imagine the after-life of a responsible, average person being just as interesting, except that
Noé wants to explore the consequences of darkness.
Enter The Void
An artistic exploration into the irreversible damaging aspects of small mistakes, minor decisions, timing and consequences. The movie tells the story of
a loving couple that party and fight, a brutal rape occurs due to several minute and unfortunate series of events, then brutal revenge, and several lives
are ruined for no good reason. This story is explored in reverse order, making the gentle start and sequence of events all the more tragic as they un-unfold.
The atmospheric soundtrack is as gut wrenching as the story, and the camera sickeningly twists and turns or stares unflinchingly at endless brutality. Altogether
very disturbing and tragic. Interestingly, this is the only rape and revenge movie I know of that makes you think instead of exploiting its subject matter, despite
the extreme and graphic scenes that, in this case, actually add to the provocation.
Half-length quick experiment by Noé on the subject of film-making and the various abuses that female actresses endure. Except, being a Noé film, this becomes an audio-visual
assault on the audience. The content is very simple and feels improvised: Béatrice Dalle and Charlotte Gainsbourg play versions of themselves on the set of a movie about
burning witches, they have a conversation about bad and funny experiences on movie-sets, the set gradually deterioriates into chaos while everyone hounds everyone else
for various personal agendas, and then the women are tied to the stake for the fake burning scene which goes out of control, and Noé inflicts on us his most aggressive attack
yet, one that even people with healthy eyes will require some time to recover from. A simple behind-the-scenes drama turned into a climax that turns surreal by its sheer
experiential intensity, a moment of madness seared into our brains, punishing us, the audience, for conspiring with the on-set director.
One of those movies that are too good for their own good. Reminiscent in some ways of Taxi Driver, this French dark character study goes deep into the
mind of a psychotic man with a short fuse who resents his life and everyone he encounters. It is a monologue that goes into brilliantly realistic stream
of consciousness sequences as he considers violence, murder, incest and suicide, all in reaction to his pregnant wife whom he hates, the inability to get
a job and respect, and a desperate attempt to re-connect with his retarded daughter. An extremely disturbing and realistic experience.
Seul Contre Tous (I Stand Alone)
A dance troupe throw a party one night, only to find their drinks have been spiked with some nasty form of LSD that makes them lose all inhibitions and go quite insane
in a variety of ways, leading to a party climax from hell. That's the whole movie. Except since this is Noé, he attempts to bring to life the experience using sound, lighting
and intense camera-work. There are no hallucinations, just movement and sound, while the troupe deteriorate to violent, neurotic, insane, bestial, brutal and uninhibited lustful
behaviour. The movie starts like a reality show, with interviews involving all troupe members, extended dance routines, party chit-chat, and more dancing. After 45 minutes of
boredom, hell breaks loose. Problem is, the troupe members are so vacuous, bestial, superficial, and uninteresting to begin with, it isn't much of a stretch for them to behave
this way, they merely needed to lose their inhibitions and social training. Although there is some brutality and violence, this is relatively quite a tame movie for Noé. But
the problem is that it's uninteresting, and features completely vacuous characters.
A 7-minute pornographic short about a fetish orgy where a bestial mask-wearing man sodomizes a woman (after being restrained to wear a condom) while
the onlookers cheer. Jarring editing, explicit material. Except for the darkly humorous advertising for condoms that condom companies could never use,
it seems quite pointless.