Climax

Review by Adam Woodward @AWLies

Directed by

Gaspar Noé

Starring

Romain Guillermic Sofia Boutella Souheila Yacoub

Anticipation.

Gaspar Noé is back with, predictably enough, a bang.

Enjoyment.

Sort of like Fame, if the entire cast were high on LSD.

In Retrospect.

Like going to nightclub sober when everyone inside is already fucked.

A dance troupe descends into a drug-addled nightmare in Gaspar Noé’s high-larks latest.

A glittering Tricolore hangs on the back wall of a grungy community hall where a professional dance ensemble are gathered for what is to be their final rehearsal. As a thumping house track blares out from a PA system, the dancers launch into an exhilarating five-minute routine, the camera capturing their every bump, grind and twist in a single, swirling take.

They break only for the party atmosphere to immediately be cranked up several notches. The camera keeps rolling, roving freely around the open-plan space to capture snippets of conversation by turns idle and intimate. The dancers laugh and chat and drink and dance some more. Then someone spikes the punch and the celebratory setting is suddenly transformed into a hedonistic hellscape.

Welcome to the latest Very Bad Trip from lovable rogue Gaspar Noé, director of such eye-watering works as Irréversible, Enter the Void and Love. Depicting humanity’s worst excesses is Noé’s forte, of course, and the controversy courting Argentine clearly relishes putting his cast of twerking twentysomethings through the wringer.

Among the performers in this Dantean disco are a bickering lesbian couple, a single mother and her young son, an overprotective brother with incestuous inclinations and a pair of adidas-clad bros who casually brag about having “dry” anal sex with the women in their company. And then there’s star-on-the-rise Sofia Boutella, who gives a performance that can only be described as fully committed.

It’s a pity Noé spends so much time choreographing the immersive long takes which make up the mercifully lean runtime (when the cuts aren’t neatly concealed they’re marked by frame-filling, pseudo philosophical title cards such as “Birth is a Unique Opportunity”) instead of fleshing out his characters. Watching the cast go completely nuts is a lot of fun, but ultimately it’s hard to actually care about the grisly fate that befalls them.

Published 20 Sep 2018

Tags: Gaspar Noé Sofia Boutella

Anticipation.

Gaspar Noé is back with, predictably enough, a bang.

Enjoyment.

Sort of like Fame, if the entire cast were high on LSD.

In Retrospect.

Like going to nightclub sober when everyone inside is already fucked.

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