Climax (Movie Review)

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: French dancers gather in a remote and isolated academy to rehearse their upcoming act and celebrate the beginning of a long tour together. However, once somebody spikes the sangria with LSD, the party escalates from a wild evening into a nightmarish hallucinatory trip straight into eternal damnation.

REVIEW: A soiree of dancers move and pulsate to the beat of the music, their limbs intertwining and detangling as the moments ebb and flow. Occasionally, the humanity of the group is called into question, both by the limber exaggerations of their flesh, and by the actions each participant chooses to exhibit as the night lingers on. Someone spiked the sangria, and once the drug kicks in, this little rehearsal party devolves from a school for artists into a blood-soaked nightmare.

Gaspar Noe is back with his best film in years, and surprisingly enough, this time he's made a feature that's centering around the least likely subject — a dance movie. CLIMAX is a literal head rush. A foggy, psychadelic, music-fueled descent into hell. Lead by actual dancers with little to no acting experience, the actors carry a certain unshowy gravitas that lends a tangible, grounded element to this otherwise bizarre stream of consciousness.

There is very little dialogue throughout the film, but it's not entirely necessary. As the dancers jolt and writhe, their bodies speak the words their lips cannot say. Every aggressive lunge, every exhale, every stomp and shake — each movement conveys a conversation, and director Noe is simply sitting back and allowing his audience to decipher the meaning of the stories told onscreen.

What Noe is less shy about are his influences. The film begins with a bird's eye view of a blonde woman clawing her way across a snow covered hill, screaming all the while. We then cut to an old television set playing back a tape which contains all of the dancers interviews as they describe their pasion for the arts, their drug usage, and their personal relationships. When asked what they would do if they could not dance, one girl casually replies, "Suicide". The flickering screen is surrounded on all sides by VHS tapes of old horror movies, including Lucio Fulci's ZOMBIE, Dario Argento's SUSPIRIA, Pier Paolo Pasolini's SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM, and Andrzej Zulawski's POSSESSION — the latter of which clearly serves as a basis for one of Sofia Boutella's more memorable freakout moments.

CLIMAX is less of a movie and more of a ride — a slippery slope into madness and despair. An exploration of the human condition, like a reverse of 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. Instead of watching the creation of mankind, we are witnessing its downfall. It's a gorgeously shot, ultra hypnotic and dangerously exciting dance movie — if you can handle it. With its drug use and its explicit sex scenes and its wildly graphic and utterly intense violent nature, CLIMAX may not be for everyone. But ooh, if you pass this one up, so sad for you.




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