REVIEW: Climax (2018): Be careful what you imbibe.
You won't see this title card until the end of the film.
Gaspar Noé drops by to direct another interesting film in his ever intriguing and expanding filmography. He directs experience films as I've mentioned before. They're never boring or uninteresting and this time he delivers once again.
The setting revolves around a group of dancers in France. Many days of rehearsals have been happening and this is the night to party. Little do they know that the bowl of sangria they've been drinking all night has been dosed. With what? Lysergic acid diethylamide otherwise known as LSD. Strap yourself in, you're in for quite a ride.
Won't you have a glass too? His films tend to alter your mind upon viewing anyhow.
Did I mention that this is a French film? Sparse English dialogue is present so turn on the subtitles and enjoy. This is the only way to view it.
This is a French film in case you're wondering. Gaspar Noé reminds the audience in a subtle way as is his style.
The plot is bare bones and it was designed as such. The vast majority of actors have never acted before and are dancers. The sole recognizable actor I could recognize was Sofia Boutella who was a dancer at one point in her career.
Credits inserted at a certain part of the film. Certainly not where one would generally expect it.
The story behind the the filming is equally interesting. This film is loosely based on an incident where people were given LSD sometime in the 1990's in a similar setting. The film itself specifically chooses 1996 as the year it takes place. I'm not sure if this is arbitrary or not. In reality, nothing much happened. I'll assume people knew something was not right and nothing much came of it. This film is very different from that.
The film is mostly unrehearsed with little to no script. Noé had an idea of a start and an end, that's it. Everything in-between was up to the actors with suggestions from the director. The filming atmosphere was apparently very laid back too. Asking what the actors were willing to do along with slight prompting would produce unique results and it does as shown by the dialogue between characters.
I'll agree with that statement. In the weirdness there are a lot of interesting ideas.
People are paired up, want to pair up or have issues with each other. The filming style feels like a documentary. We are sitting with different groups of people for long takes. Usually, two people are talking while this party is going on. The dialogue feels real and I believe the lack of script does wonders here.
Listen to the DJ he knows what he's talking about. There are some great group dance moments in this film.
Once the drug starts kicking in we see the mood of the celebration party change. Some become jealous while others become outright dangerous. Some might read more into this as a tale of the human condition once all inhibitions are taken away. However you see it is up to you and I can tell the director has framed the film this way. One more interesting film that makes you think.
The opening scenes are a direct view of a television surrounded by books and movies. This shot doesn't waver for at least 10 minutes while we see the audition tapes of the dancers. Someone is off-screen asking them different questions about themselves, dance and anything they wish. This is the troupe of individuals we meet throughout the film.
We get to know a little about each character while we the audience watch the interview tapes. Interesting film and literature selections surround the television. Eclectic taste I see.
The cast is relatively large for such a small setting. We're in an abandoned school with most of the film taking place in the gym. Early in the film we have a long dance sequence that is mesmerizing. The DJ keeps the music flowing and people dance to all genres of music.
This is where we see the dancers. All types of styles are present here and I couldn't help but noticing the krumpers in here. Apparently, Gaspar Noé saw the same documentary as myself at one point, Rize, from David LaChapelle. I might have even spotted some ballroom culture, ravers and voguing in there among the many styles of dance.
Get your Krump on. One of the many differing styles of dance the troupe brings to the film.
Everyone gets a chance to shine here. The love and conflicts are easy to see. There are a few dancers who aren't drinking this night and this must be remembered. At this point everyone is having a great time. Once they find out they've been dosed human nature takes foot.
One of the more scary moments. Only later on in the film do they figure out there is something funny with the communal punch bowl. By then the effects are in full force.
This is a film that will hit with some and be dismissed quickly by others. All of his films are like this and that's the reason why I'll always watch whatever he decides to release. I've seen some saying this film is boring and has no plot. This is something I don't see at all. Non-traditional story telling always seems to have these sort of complaints. For me, it's refreshing.
As for non-traditional structure, let's dive into that for a bit.
Credits near the start of the film are employed here and is not something new either. The reasoning is to get that part of the film out of the way. The credits are not long either so this shouldn't be a concern. Film used to show all credits at the beginning if you work yourself backwards through the origin of the medium. The director loves the idea of a final scene and cut to black. I can't blame him, the impact is like a sledgehammer driving home the final point and scene. You have one here too in this film.
Time to roll some musical credits right in the middle of the film. Unconventional for sure. The music is pounding all the while too.
Title cards are inserted at random times throughout the film. Musical credits are inserted in one long section that I can't say I've ever seen done in a film before. White text on a black background are also present at different points offering a quote about what we've just seen. Is the director trying to evoke certain emotions here or steering the audience in a certain direction? Either way it adds to the experience.
You might also come across a random quote. Noé knows how to play with the format and mold it into whatever he chooses.
Last but not least, the actual title of the film appears as the final shot of the film. A slow fade out into pure white with a hazy rendition of the letters that spell the title of the film.
The music is a high point to go along with the visuals. I can hear the forest speaking or maybe that's just the sangria talking.
The musical selection being played by the DJ runs the gamut of electronica including Patrick Hernandez, Giorgio Moroder, Gary Numan and Aphex Twin among many others. I was nodding my head in time for the majority of the film with my eyes transfixed on the screen. Aural and visual stimulation to the max for me!
The differing styles of dance, music and the group dynamics are the highlights of the film.
In conclusion, this is another interesting film from Gaspar Noé. Certainly more experimental while still retaining a narrative structure that will keep the viewer engaged. I don't believe this will hit home for most and it's certainly not a film night movie for the family. Those looking for something different from the norm should be pleased and anyone that knows this director will have an idea of what to expect. As always, I was pleased and will watch this again years later and no doubt glean more about it at that time.
So that's who did it! Notice the Christiane F. novel, more clues about the reason for the dosing.
We do see in the last scene who dosed the sangria and it doesn't make a grand difference. The experience for the film viewer is what's important here and this the individual who did it is a mere construct to aid in the narrative process.
Thanks for the read 🙂
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You are going to need to source your images for curation. This is an intersting review. Thank you.
All media captured by myself from the original source as noted in the post and all my posts.
nice review thanks
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