Gaspar Noé provokes again – this time with a spectacular dance performance that gets hopelessly out of control after a few sips too much of sangria. What CLIMAX one of the most exciting film experiments of the year, we reveal that in our review.
The Plot Summary
A dance group moves into a remote practice center for rehearsals. At the closing party, a stranger mixes drugs into the sangría, causing a collective trip to hell. Fear turns into paranoia, subliminal aggression turns into open violence, affection turns into uncontrolled desire. The energetic choreography dissolves into chaos, the dancers continue to tumble, stumble and dance in extreme ecstasy until dawn when the police arrive and discover the full extent.
Movie explanation of the ending
“You despised ‘Misanthrope’, hated ‘Irréversible’, loathed ‘Enter the Void’ and cursed ‘Love’ – now try ‘Climax!’” – that’s what it says on one of the posters for Gaspar Noé’s new film were made and as if this frontal attack on the irritated viewer wasn’t meaningful enough, there is also a portrait of the Argentinian-born director who looks the viewer directly in the face. It’s as if he knew exactly what kind of reaction to expect from his latest prank. In Cannes, where the film celebrated its world premiere, these were more frenetic than with hardly any other Noé project before. One could almost think that with “Climax” he had made up for some of the controversial art from the past few years; And his latest film isn’t necessarily any more accessible than what he’s done before. In the 95 minutes of his dance party, which goes completely out of control, the man, whose name is actually incomplete without the description enfant terrible, once again turns his audience’s viewing habits upside down. And we don’t say that because he literally does that when the camera turns 180 degrees at some point, but because his film’s structure and sequence simply pushes boundaries that you didn’t even know could be broken before.
At the escalating party, the guests get closer…
Such actually self-evident structures and staging forms include banalities like the credits; “Climax” begins with the end credits, simply places the opening credits in the middle of the film and ends with the film title – such little things could just as easily be accused Noé of being gimmicky. Playing a little with the unwritten rules of filmmaking, simply because you have to can, is not a stroke of genius. At the same time, however, they also prove two things: On the one hand, the result shows that no film element, no matter how safe one might think, is safe from the Buenos Aires-born auteur, and on the other hand, you can only do something like that without completely changing the pace of a film mess up if you have a sense of rhythm. Gaspar Noé has this feeling and presents it in a different way in each of his films. Here, through the gradually increasing heartbeat of his film, he creates a literal pull that viscerally lifts the viewer to a level similar to that of the characters. The exuberant joy, the powerlessness, the escalation – all of these narrative and staging stages, one of which flows naturally into the next, form the heart of “Climax” and make the characters acting in this extreme situation almost a minor matter. Gaspar Noé (once again) only tells a real story on the second level. First and foremost it’s about creating a feeling – “Climax” is frenzy.
How Gaspar Noé ultimately stages this frenzy can best be described as the “’mother!’ of dance films”: After a prologue consisting of meaningful monologues about the value of dancing, “Climax” begins with one of several spectacular dance sequences. None of these jazz dance performances, meticulously choreographed down to the smallest detail, in which the spectacle results from everyone moving as if synchronized to the music. The wildest body movements of different dance styles dominate here, everyone dances for themselves, contorting themselves to dizzying heights. But although everyone acts on their own, the bodies, bending, turning and bubbling with passion, soon become a homogeneous mass. It’s hard to get enough of what’s on display on screen, simply because it’s very rare to see such dance art at all. It pays off here that Noé only worked with trained dancers. In the 19 days of filming, based on a script that originally only consisted of three pages, the director shot chronologically, first letting the talents celebrate their physical feats and drawing energy from this for the few game scenes, most of which were also improvised. Men talk to men about women, women talk to women about men, men talk to men about men and women talk to women about women – soon the mood becomes sexually charged; also because people here talk quite openly about topics such as anal intercourse without lubricant. But as flashy and perhaps intentionally provocative as it may be from time to time, it all always develops out of the situation. Nothing seems staged, no sentence or action is aimed solely at the dramaturgy. The atmosphere, the words said, the people – all of this merges into perfect passion. Until everything escalates.
Is there LSD in sangria?
Whether the sangria, which dominates even the short trailer, actually contains LSD is one of the many mysteries that surrounds “Climax” (it is never shown and subsequently solved) – but at least the suggestion is that there is a consciousness-altering agent here Gaspar Noé succeeds perfectly in tweaking the protagonists’ perceptions. He refrains from showing the events from the perspective of those affected. In “Climax” the shimmering camera of Noé’s regular cameraman Benoît Debie, flying uninhibitedly around the characters, remains (“Limitless”) always an outside observer. Nevertheless, the recordings could hardly be more disturbing. While the entire potpourri of party music is played out of the speakers, from booming electro beats (hopefully the cinemas turn the film up really loud!) to disco evergreens (including remixes and combinations of well-known songs and… Film music), scenes play out before the audience’s eyes that really hit the nerve, especially if you don’t know too much about them in advance. “Climax” isn’t even particularly brutal. Instead, the literal punch in the stomach comes primarily from the sheer volume of things that happen to the partygoers here. In combination with some really dramatic and therefore only really shocking scenes in the context, Gaspar Noé and his fabulous dance and acting crew once again make one thing very clear: you are only too happy to give in to the director’s fucked up drug escapades in the skin of the film However, you definitely don’t want to be stuck with all the characters living through it firsthand.
Conclusion: With “Climax”, Gaspar Noé has once again managed to make a film that has never been seen again. His dance psychodrama is pure frenzy that you first have to get through in order to then love or hate it. We choose the former!
“Climax” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from December 6th.