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‘Enter the Void': Intense Even For Stars; Sony Buys ‘Prophet’

Updated Friday:   Sony Pictures Classics bought the U.S. distribution rights to "A Prophet," probably the most popular film at the festival this year, and a front-runner for the Golden Palm.   The film is a two-and-half-hour crime thriller set in Corsica by French director Jacques Audiard. The film presents a challenge for American audiences, as […]

Updated Friday:

 

Sony Pictures Classics bought the U.S. distribution rights to "A Prophet," probably the most popular film at the festival this year, and a front-runner for the Golden Palm.

 

The film is a two-and-half-hour crime thriller set in Corsica by French director Jacques Audiard. The film presents a challenge for American audiences, as language – Corsican versus French versys Arabic- plays a key role in the plot.

 

SPC has also bought the rights to another front-runner for the top prize, Michael Haneke’s meditative, "The White Ribbon." 

 

Earlier:

 

As if there weren’t enough divisive material screened over the past week and half, Gasper Noé’s "Enter the Void" showed up at Cannes this afternoon, where it received an entertainingly mixed reaction.

 

The movie is fascinating in its construction, painfully overlong and absurdly audacious — but, hey, I can’t imagine a better venue to watch something like that than the Palais des Festival.

Noé has a reputation for chuning out difficult and often quite violent stories, but it seemed like an especially telling sign that the audience was in for something rather intense when, after bowing for the audience, the two child actors left the theater.

 

There are many reasons why "Enter the Void" is not family fare, but it’s not for other audience types, either. Noé has somewhat overextended ambitions,
even without considering the heavily explicit nature of the content.

 

The movie initially takes place in first person, as we watch the perspective of a Tokyo-based drug dealer while he gets high, trips out and heads to a local bar. After an abrupt series of circumstances, the guy winds up dead, and that’s when things get really weird. Having established views on the afterlife from the Tibetan Book of the Dead, Noé attempts to express them. The character’s mind drifts around, allowing him to witness the aftermath of his demise from above.

 

Much like the idea behind the movie, watching "Void" is a serious headtrip. Noé uses color patterns and other digital effects to replicate his dead protagonist’s increasingly abstract vision, an effect that’s fun to watch for about 20 minutes, but grows tiring after a while.

 

With a two-and-a-half hour running time, "Void" covers all its bases and then some. Things seem to be wrapping up at the 90-minute mark, and then keep going … and going … and going, before a hilariously obscene climax in which the character gets reincarnated in his sisters womb. As his spirit travels to her womb prior to his conception, we actually witness a penis entering the birth canal from the inside. Well, it’s a first, I think.

Then Noé drops one final trick. The screen went completely black for a good minute or so, which led Palais audiences to think it had ended. Droves of people headed to the door as a mixture of boos and claps echoed throughout the room.

 

Then, suddenly, the movie came back to life as the perspective of a newborn baby appeared onscreen. And that was that.