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Take Noe For An Answer
Sex, drugs, extreme violence - no, it’s not the latest from the Fianna Fail think-in, it’s the new film from controversial French director Gaspar Noe. He talks to Tara Brady about being the most divisive filmmaker of his generation
Tara Brady, 01 Nov 2010
More than a decade has passed since film audiences walked out of Gaspar Noe’s I Stand Alone feeling shaken to the core. A fearsome, uncompromising portrait of rage, incest and slaughter, the film seemed to codify the New French Extremity, a loose subset of trangressive Gallic movies including Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi’s Baise-moi, Christophe Honoré’s Ma mère, Claire Denis’ Trouble Every Day, and Patrice Chereau’s Intimacy.
The Argentine-born, French-based director seems bemused by the label: “Well, I am not competing with other French directors,” he says. “But it is obviously not true that the French are more extreme than the Germans or the Danish or whoever. But if somebody makes a movie that is very violent after Irreversible then they will compare it to my movie. That’s how it is.”
Ah, yes. Irreversible. Who could forget M. Noé’s shocking 2002 film and its gruelling nine-minute rape sequence? Admired by its defenders and vilified by spokespersons hailing from the ‘moral majority’, the film has rarely been equalled in terms of sheer visceral horror.
“One day I met a guy and he said because of your movie I could not have sex with my wife for a whole month,” says the filmmaker. “I heard stories from girls that they wouldn’t tell to their own husbands – stories of rape. Also from men too – raped by their fathers. Movies can make people say things they wouldn’t otherwise say. Sometimes that’s more worrying than a bad comment about a film. You know what your movie is like, after all. But that’s disturbing. There can be anguish in my films. They are bloody. You feel danger. You are in the dark – like in the womb before you come to the light.”
The director’s latest effort, Enter The Void, continues the trend. Set against a lurid Tokyo backdrop, the film concerns Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a 20 year-old drug dealer and his promiscuous stripper sister, Linda. Neither of the siblings approves of the other’s life choices though there are strong hints of a previous incestuous relationship between them. When Oscar is killed, the movie continues from his perspective as a kind of graphic, claustrophobic riposte of The Lovely Bones. Think Lady In The Lake but with full-frontal nudity and a penis-eye view of intimate lady parts.