Director: Gustav Noe
Starring: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub, Kiddy Smile, Claude-Emmanuelle Gajan-Maull, Giselle Palmer, Taylor Kastle. France. 1h 35.
There is always something risque with any Noe film and usually it’s no big shock when the crazy sexual violence is going to spring in but Climax, a film which , for me doesn’t live up to its name and just doesn’t really pique, but it does get crazy, just crazy, nothing ban worthy… darn it.
I successfully managed to avoid the hype train, as I had no idea this was in the pipeline, the only piece of information I had was that the film was about some dancers who are spiked we with drugs, the possibilities are fucking endless. and yet. . 20 minutes in I was bored, 40 minutes in… I was bored then the plot picks up…but ultimately I was bored, let me explain.
The introduction to this ruby coloured psychodrama comes as a lengthy segment displayed on an old school TV where the dancers are interviewed, mainly about their abilities and view on drugs which most aren’t impressed with, but most interesting factor is the array of books and films stacked up around the screen.
(Click on it for the full image.. titles including : The Possession, Un Chien Andalou, Suspiria, Schizophrenia, Salo, Le Droit De Plus Fort, Querelle, Fritz Land, Suicide??)
Next is another lengthy segment of contemporary dance, legs and arms flailing all over in this Vogue tastic Drag Race style production. The choreography, I’m sure is is there with all the best, but in terms of cinema, I personally just didn’t care. We know they are dancers and therefore didn’t really need this but after the performance and over half way through the film the celebration begins around a huge bowl of sangria and slowly the disturbing behavior starts when one of dancers pisses herself in the middle of the dance floor and a nonsensical fight breaks out. What you’ll need to appreciate is that this film is supposedly set in the early to mid 90’s (but smartphones?) when a group of 20 french urban dancers have joined together for a three day rehearsal in a closed down boarding school in the heart of a forest. It’s pretty easy to work out but none of this is really alluded to. It could have been a better warm up than the interviews.
The movie then follows the group as they go deeper into their drug fueled adventures, with few fighting their urges, some turn violently, others get sexually charged, but overall the movie becomes a dizzying soup of degrading and at time incestuous behavior and the beat carries on but it seems more of an out of control social experiment than an accidental spiking, but that question is never answered, it doesn’t matter, what really matters is what happens next. There is no clear main character, the camera dashes around catching little bits of action, someone is on fire, then someone is being coached into suicide, back to the fire, then smooth dancing from the DJ.
Noe does this thing, in fact he over does his thing, using every camera angle, amping up the colour as he continue to break every cinema rule to bring his admirers something new, but arguable it doesn’t work, he hides a lot of the action under dark lights and out of view in inverted scenes, and it’s not all that new, once the dust settles the film feels like a homage to the silvery movies that did go there once upon a time and those titles around the TV earlier on in the movie make more sense.
For a while I wondered if this is really a horror, indeed it’s horrific, watching any social group lose control with out without drugs is indeed something to make you feel very unsettled, a few moments really did touch a nerve but Noe is astute at forcing his audience to use their imaginations against themselves, I was left with more questions than sleepless nights.
R: Possession (1981), Suspiria (1977)
5s – Gustav Noe