Climax: Movie Review

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One thing for sure: Climax, the 2018 film directed by Gaspar Noé, won’t leave you unimpressed. I came out of the cinema stunned, and I think that watching this movie was the closest thing to a (bad) LSD trip I’ve ever had in my life. Assuming that this was the intent of the director, I would say that he succeeded spectacularly. So let’s talk about this movie, and as usual I’ll avoid spoilers.

In the winter of 1996, a French group of dancers spend three days in an isolated school to prepare a show for an upcoming tour in the United States. At the end of the last rehearsals, they throw a party to celebrate the successful experience but all of a sudden they find themselves under the effect of a very powerful acid that someone, nobody knows who, added to the sangria that almost everyone drank. Things will degenerate very quickly…

Gaspar Noé is not new to this type of movies (see Irreversible, 2002, and Enter the void, 2009). If you already know his work, you won’t be surprised by the omnipresent pounding music, by the very bright colors (blue, red, green…) and by the long takes that follow one character first, then another, and then another passing through impossible angles and amazingly sinuous movements. Don’t be surprised by the ending credits placed 30 seconds from the beginning of the film, nor by the actors’ names dominating the screen 45 minutes into the movie, or by the sudden cuts coming out of nowhere.

If you haven’t got it yet, Climax is not a conventional movie. In fact, the script was one page long and the cast improvised basically everything, with the cast being composed entirely dancers of the most disparate styles. Everything has been improvised but the beautiful initial choreography which is wholly shot with a fixed camera, just before the latter starts moving basically without stopping anymore. Shot in two weeks and in chronological order, Climax is a real descent into hell…

I think that there are some metaphors somewhere in Climax: many characters talk about the French flag, the surreal messages appearing on screen sometimes suggest that this is a very French film and proud of being so, at a certain point the theme of diversity comes out, the meltin’ pot of the cast is evident… Then Heaven and Hell are mentioned, but I don’t know if there really were messages that the director wanted to send or not. According to Noé himself, he wanted to study chaos and anarchy, phenomena that he sees in street fights, in shamanic rites with psychotropic substances, and in parties where all the participants get drunk.

I would say that the film, given this objective, is perfect. If I had to find out the closest thing to Climax, I would say that it’s the videogame Hotline Miami, with its spectacular electronic music and its senseless and non-stop violence. Climax stuns, amazes, but also keeps you glued to the screen. Surely it’s a film worth seeing in a cinema theater, with a great surround sound helping the viewer to enter the chaotic atmosphere of the psychedelic nightmare that Gaspar Noé managed to create. Recommended! Ciao!


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