Gaspar Noé is known to be one of the most divisive filmmakers in the industry. Whether you like or hate his movies, that’s up to you. His latest film Climax, which just had its recent premiere at the Festival du Nouveau Cinéma, is undeniably another flick that is not going to appeal to everybody. If you’ve seen his previous films such as Irréversible and Enter the Void, you should know what you’re getting into. Climax is about a group of dancers that has been rehearsing really hard for a competition, but then things start to get ugly. While they’re partying as a celebration of their hard work in the rehearsal space, they start experiencing some trippy side effects after drinking some spiked sangria filled with psychedelics. Admittedly, it is a simple premise, but the execution is quite something.
What stands out from the movie is that it’s really unsettling to watch. It’s a straightforward premise, so the director can only rely on the cinematography and visuals to showcase his vision. Climax feels a lot more like an experimental film rather than a narrative film, because there’s nothing more you can do about a group of dancers going through a psychedelic experience. Surprisingly, Noé does an efficient job grabbing the audience’s attention when bizarre things are happening on screen. The intro is a little slow with a montage showcasing all the dancers’ background and personality, but then it starts to get interestingly weird. The moment they start tripping out, it becomes intense. The colour palette changes every time a character goes to a different room, and the camera movements capture the uncomfortable vibe of the event happening on screen. That’s definitely not something you see every day in the movie theatre.
The cast is mostly filled with unknown actors, except for Sofia Boutella, and they’re ok for the most part. The dance sequences are absolutely top-notch, and it’s some of the best choreography shown on the big screen. However, the main flaw with the film is that since there are so many characters, not all of them get some development, so it’s really hard to care for some of the dancers. Everyone, except Boutella, is somewhat one-dimensional. Some of the characters are cool, while some of them are just downright irritating, and it’s hard to know who to root for. Boutella is the only memorable actress in the entire movie, mainly because she plays the lead character and gets the most screen time than anybody else. They’re not supposed to be compelling people, but it would have been better if they have interesting personalities that stand out.
Climax isn’t a film that has a compelling narrative or intriguing characters, but it’s undeniably one of the most unique cinematic experiences. It knows that it’s not trying to be a groundbreaking piece of cinema, as it feels more like an experiment that the audience will either love or hate. If you want to know what it’s like to go through a bad trip, this might be the movie for you. Get ready for a bumpy ride.
Climax is now playing in theatres.