For quite some time I have learned to appreciate the films of director Lars Von Trier (Dancer In The Dark, Melancholia) because he really knows how to “Touch” a nerve when it comes to evoking a visceral and primal response from viewers whether it be: Repulsion, Fear, or Melancholy
However after viewing 3 of director Gaspar NOe’s films: Irreversible, LOVE and his latest release Climax.
I don’t think it premature to assume that ‘Climax’ firmly places Gaspar NOé among the pantheon of directors considered to be the “Enfant Terrible” or Bad Boys of French Extremism.
Climax isn’t a comfortable movie, but it’s definitely interesting and will linger in your mind long after the movie ends.
“Climax” is hard to love, but there’s something going on here that’s worth respecting since it’s not like any other movie you will see this year, or possibly ever.
Climax is innovative and exhilarating at times, while being simultaneously oppressively brutal, relentless, repetitive, tiresome, but never boring. People who either walked out of this movie or stopped playback did not do so for lack of interest, but for lack of endurance.
This French film features a young and attractive cast, almost all of them dancers, not actors, and after a brief introduction, the movie launches into a percussive dance number that is absolutely dazzling. It starts with Sofia Boutella (“Atomic Blonde” and “The Mummy”), in a medium shot, standing by the DJ booth.
Then the music starts. The camera pulls back, and the dancers start performing. Try to picture this, if you can: The dancers are facing us, as though we were on the other side of the studio and they were showing us what they’ve come up with. Yet what we see has spatial depth. As someone dances in the foreground, there’s dancing going on behind, too, and on all sides, and the camera moves to emphasize that.
The choreography is chaos, but controlled chaos, like a thousand near-collisions. It’s exuberance with just a hint of danger and foreshadowing of tragedy via a dozen mini-dramas happening simultaneously, all seamlessly interwoven and taking on more or less importance, as the camera rises and falls …but never cuts. Not once. Just that much alone is an achievement. Think about all the dances that have been put on film over the last century.
NOe uses the unbroken takes pioneered by Fred Astaire and Michael Jackson, pairing them with over-the-stage shots straight out of Busby Berkeley and uses those classic and contemporary techniques in a completely modern way to produce a unique effect. To be clear, “Climax” is not a movie to recommend or condemn. Rather, it’s one to describe and let viewers decide for themselves.
But if you ever get a chance to see that dance scene, take it from this writer. It’s something special.
Based on a ‘True’ Story? “Climax” is loosely based on a real-life story from 1996, about a dance troupe that had a very bad night when, at a party, someone spiked the sangria with LSD. Granted even movies like: Sharknado claimed to be based on a ‘True Story’ and it’s difficult to find any info that doesn’t reference this movie movie which starts with young people in a large studio room, all flirting and cavorting and drinking Sangria, looking forward to a tour of the United States. Then one of the women urinates on the floor and stands there, oblivious.
Gradually people start noticing that they’re feeling strange, that something is wrong, that they’ve been drugged.
Noe makes an interesting decision here that breaks the pattern of just about every other movie ever made about LSD. He never shows us a hallucination. He never takes us into the visual perspective of the people having these bad trips, no lame special effects depicting wavy colored clouds or monsters here— and make no mistake, MOST of these dancers are having a bad trip. Instead, he stays on the outside and films their panic, their irrationality and their increasing violence.
The second half of the movie appears to be one unbroken take, in which Noe’s camera moves about the room, following the various characters, losing one thread to pick up another.
As in the dance sequence, no matter what is happening in the foreground, something else is happening in the background, and the choreography of the actors in space is intricate and impressive.
Still, as a piece of entertainment, the appeal of the dance scenes diminishes, in the context that the longer the party goes on, the worse the activities get and the more horrific the movie becomes, ensuring that “Climax” is a movie few people will enjoy, but afterward, not mind having seen it. Directed by Gaspar Noe. In French with English subtitles.
Do You Dare?
Watch Movie HERE
It was that bitch who pissed on the floor that spiked the Sangria with the LSD