Tag Archives: Gaspar Noé

Climax (2019) Review

Time: 161 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence, sexual content, self-harm, drug use & offensive language
Cast:
Sofia Boutella as Selva
Romain Guillermic as David
Souheila Yacoub as Lou
Kiddy Smile as Daddy
Claude Gajan Maull as Emmanuelle
Giselle Palmer as Gazelle
Taylor Kastle as Taylor
Thea Carla Schott as Psyche
Director: Gaspar Noé

When members of a dance troupe are lured to an empty school, drug-laced sangria causes their jubilant rehearsal to descend into a dark and explosive nightmare as they try to survive the night — and find out who’s responsible — before it’s too late.

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I had been meaning to get around to Climax for some time. That’s why I decided to watch some of director Gaspar Noé’s films beforehand, that being Irreversible and Enter the Void, to get a good idea of him as a filmmaker. Like those movies I didn’t know much going in, with Climax I knew the basic plot description and I knew that Sofia Boutella was in it, and that’s all I knew. Having watched the movie, while there are a couple aspects that don’t work as greatly as I thought it could’ve, most of it was actually pretty excellent.

Essentially the biggest problem of the movie is that there are too many characters, about 20 in total. One of the first sequences of the movie had a bunch of interviews with each of them and they give plenty of answers that no doubt explains a lot about their characters and why they make certain decisions or do certain things in the drug-fulled half of the movie, but there are so many people to keep focus on that it’s hard to remember them. After that interview scene there is a prolonged tracking shot that has a lot going on including a very extensive dance sequence, and it was truly excellent. Directly after this however is a long period where it cut around to each of the characters interacting and talking, like with the interview scene it was also probably telling a lot about the characters, and I just couldn’t follow all the conversations and I felt like I was missing a lot. While I might’ve picked up on more if the dialogue was all English instead of it being 5% English and 95% French, I’m pretty sure I’d still have some issues understanding and following all these characters. Halfway through the movie however, that’s when it really picked up and started to be much more consistent. That’s the point where the drugs kick in for each of the characters and made them start to do some crazy and insane things (to keep it vague). It traps you inside of this place with all these now crazy people and works like a horror movie without really being a horror movie. It might be a weird comment to make but I’m not sure if there is much of a point to the movie. Like I got the messages and what Noe was trying to say with Irreversible and Enter the Void, but Climax seemed to be more like “you’re going to be stuck with all these people go absolutely insane from drugs”. As just that, it works. Side note but I feel like I actually didn’t pick up on everything that actually happened, the mystery of who is behind all the drugs is actually revealed in the movie but I missed it, I only picked it up when I saw a summary for the movie.

As I previously said, there are way too many characters involved in the movie, too difficult to remember them all. With that said, from what I can remember, the acting by everyone was generally good. The stand out actor however was Sofia Boutella, the only recognisable person in this cast and is the closest thing to a main character here. Boutella has been giving some pretty good supporting performances in other movies and she is really great here, especially in the second half. Some of the acting is a little weird at times, especially with the drug related moments in the second half, however you could argue that their behaviour is heavily influenced by the effects of the drugs, so in that it still really works for the movie.

Gaspar Noé’s direction as to be expected was fantastic. Like Noe’s other films, there are very long takes, the cinematography is much smoother however, much more so than Irreversible and even Enter the Void. There is a lot going on in this one building that this film takes place in and the camera panning around to all the characters and rooms really makes you feel like you’re really there. I’m aware that there are no doubt some trick editing to link multiple takes and making them look like they’re a single one, but it’s impressive nonetheless. It’s a stunning looking movie for sure. Like Enter the Void, drugs play a huge part in the movie but unlike that movie, we aren’t experiencing the movie through any of the characters’ eyes or anything. Rather it’s like we are a bystander at that party, not affected by the drugs but watching everyone else go insane. It’s not nearly as graphic or disturbing as Irreversible but it’s still pretty brutal and hard to watch at times, with some effectively uneasy moments. Another thing to note is the dancing segments, there aren’t a lot of them and it’s not necessarily a big part of the actual movie but they are well choreographed and really grab your attention when they are on screen.

Climax was an unforgettable and visceral experience, Gaspar Noé’s direction was phenomenal, the acting was good, and is just was fantastic all around, especially with its tremendously sharp turn in the second half. It is unfortunately brought down quite a bit by the massive amount of characters involved in the movie, however I think it might actually improve over time on repeat viewings. It’s not as disturbing as Irreversible, nor is it as weird and trippy as Enter the Void, so if you haven’t seen any of Noé’s other movies and want to start somewhere, Climax might actually be an alright place to start. While it’s still early in 2019, it might end up being one of the best films of this year.

Enter the Void (2009) Review

Time: 161 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Explicit sex scenes and drug use
Cast:
Nathaniel Brown as Oscar
Paz de la Huerta as Linda
Cyril Roy as Alex
Ed Spear as Bruno
Director: Gaspar Noé

This psychedelic tour of life after death is seen entirely from the point of view of Oscar (Nathaniel Brown), a young American drug dealer and addict living in Tokyo with his prostitute sister, Linda (Paz de la Huerta). When Oscar is killed by police during a bust gone bad, his spirit journeys from the past — where he sees his parents before their deaths — to the present — where he witnesses his own autopsy — and then to the future, where he looks out for his sister from beyond the grave.

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As I said in my Irreversible review, I decided to watch a couple of Gaspar Noé’s films before seeing his latest film Climax, just to get an idea about Noé as a filmmaker beforehand. Irreversible had an considerable impact on me, effectively disturbing me at points like no other movie has. The other movie I decided to check out was Enter the Void, one of Noé’s most famous movies. All I knew about was that it involved drugs and the afterlife. Enter the Void is not for everyone and there are some things I really didn’t get yet after my first viewing. However, it is incredibly ambitious and original and so well put together that I can’t help but love it.

Enter the Void really is one of those rare movies which really are an experience, you can’t just casually watch it, you really need to be fully immersed in what is going on. Throughout the movie we see what happens in the present day, flashbacks to what happened before, and everything that happens after the incident. Noé manages to make this movie feel so incredibly haunting. You just feel so uncomfortable through large portions of the movie. In the moments where main character Oscar is watching what’s happening in the aftermath of his death, you feel just as powerless as he is. In these segments we don’t even get to hear his thoughts, all he (as well as us) are forced to watch what happens without being able to do anything or react in any way. Enter the Void is a really long movie at 2 hours and 40 minutes and you can really feel it. At one point I was wondering how the whole film will be ended in the next 20 minutes, only to discover that there was a whole hour left of the movie. There’s a lot of the movie that I don’t really get, particularly the last moments of the movie. However it’s likely the case that repeat viewings will help me understand some of the things that I don’t get yet.

The acting is probably the weakest part of the whole movie, not that it’s bad, it’s just that it’s decent at best and is not really the highlight of the movie. There’s not much to say about the lead played by Nathaniel Brown, most of the time that we see him on screen is from behind his head. Aside from that we are mostly looking at things from his point of view, whether that be in the real world or as a ghost. From what little we get of him acting, he does fine. The rest of the cast is alright as well.

Gaspar Noe’s direction was something unique, like with Irreversible there are long tracking shots that aren’t nearly dizzing as that film, but are very immersive and are so impressively put together. There are 3 directing styles used throughout the whole movie. The first takes place through Nathaniel Brown’s eyes, which even has black flickering on the screen to represent blinking. The second are the flashback scenes which take place from behind his head. The third is as a ghost, moving above and around other characters in the aftermath sequences. All of these work extremely well and make you really feel like you’re this person going through all these events. It is very trippy, even allowing for moments to just get weird with some really bizarre hallucinations. It’s also a visually stunning movie, even the city of Tokyo has such a great look to it and manages to shine despite it not being the focus at all. It’s not nearly as disturbing as Irreversible but it’s got some pretty graphic content at times that really are impactful.

Enter the Void like Irreversible is not a movie for everyone but for mostly different reasons. On top of it being disturbing at times and haunting throughout, it’s filmmaking style may not work for some people. It’s also very long and can feel like quite a task to watch at times. I have heard that it is somewhat reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey and although I haven’t seen it yet, I can see some of the similarities. However if you are really into film and you really want to watch a movie like nothing you’ve ever seen before, Enter the Void might actually be for you.

Irreversible (2002) Review

Time: 97 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] contains brutal sexual violence, graphic violence and sex scenes
Cast:
Monica Bellucci as Alex
Vincent Cassel as Marcus
Albert Dupontel as Pierre
Director: Gaspar Noé

A woman’s (Monica Bellucci) lover (Vincent Cassel) and her former boyfriend (Albert Dupontel) take justice into their own hands after she becomes the victim of a rapist.

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Gaspar Noé is a director whose films I’ve never watched before. After hearing about his new film Climax coming out this year, I decided to check out some of his previous work before watching it, much like how I watched Lars von Trier’s Depression Trilogy before watching his latest film The House that Jack Built. I had been hearing so much controversy surrounding this movie, I heard about that there was some extreme violence and a disturbing rape scene. Naturally I wasn’t exactly looking forward to watching it but I pushed through it anyway to check it out. While it’s not a movie that I want to see again, at the same time I admire a lot of the things that it does and what Noé is trying to say with it.

I should probably say that the plot points and scenes that I mention aren’t exactly spoiling the movie, it’s nothing more than what is already said in the summary for the movie. As you might’ve guess from the title, is done in reverse order, so we get the revenge early on, then we see the rape that sets the revenge in motion, then we see what happened before all of that. While it takes this reverse order of storytelling from Christopher Nolan’s Memento (so it’s not completely original), Irreversible still manages to make this unconventional way of storytelling not just a cool but cheap gimmick. It’s also not that difficult to follow, it’s a very straightforward movie in fact. We’ve seen plenty of movies which are pretty much revenge fantasies that are very self indulgent. By seeing the payoff first, then seeing the act that sparked it, and then the rest of the movie however, it’s making the audience reflect about the revenge throughout the rest of the movie. On top of it, it doesn’t glamourize it or make it easy to watch by any means, far from it in fact, it is so incredibly brutally realistic that for some it’ll be absolutely unwatchable, and I don’t blame those who hate watching it. It is a very ugly movie, but it’s ugly to make a point. What I can say is that after the rape scene, the rest of the movie is way more tame in comparison, it’s just sadder watching them knowing what’s going to happen to these characters.

The main 3 characters are really just Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel and all 3 are great in their roles. Bellucci plays the woman who ends up the victim of the rape and Cassel and Dupontel play the two men (boyfriend and ex boyfriend of Bellucci) who look for the man responsible. All 3 give painfully real performances and were just all around fantastic.

This is the first film I’ve seen from Gaspar Noé, and his direction here is great, he has a strong understanding of what he is doing here. One of the most unique things about Irreversible is the camerawork. Every scene is filmed in one long tracking shot and quite often the camera spins around. As time goes on, especially in the second half, it stops the spinning quite a bit and calms things a lot more, but it’s still pretty dizzying for the first half. Anyone who easily has motion sickness is probably not going to be able to get past 10 minutes of this movie. The most extreme case of this spinning filmmaking technique was in a scene in a sex club early on, where the camera is just rotating and spinning all over the place as it follows a character looking throughout the club. We can see some of what’s going on with the place and the people and it only really settles down properly when the brutal violence starts. That brings me to the violence. I have a pretty high movie violence threshold, I was actually able to stomach most of Antichrist. So know that when I say that the violence in Irreversible was incredibly hard to watch and got a reaction out of me, that means a lot coming from me. Not to spoil anything, but a particular scene involving a fire extinguisher scene really just set the mood for the rest of the movie. It’s not gloriously violent like in a Tarantino movie, it is painfully realistic, and it forces you to watch every second of it, not because it wanted to be edgy or because they thought that it was gratifying to watch, but because it really wants you to feel the level of brutality the acts are (of course I am thinking deeply about this). As for the aforementioned rape scene, it’s one long 10 minute tracking shot and doesn’t budge from the heinous act. There’s a fine line between having a point and being needlessly cruel, and thankfully Noé manages to balance it well. It is undeniably hard to watch and I had to skip through it after a couple of minutes but it does it’s job well. Much of the movie is made even more unnerving by the use of an extremely low-frequency sound to create a state of nausea in the audience that occurs for the first hour of the movie, I have to say it was very effective at making the whole experience even more unsettling than it already is.

Irreversible is tragic, well directed, greatly acted and is a ferocious attack on the senses in a great way. Saying it’s not for everyone is an understatement. Along with the trippy storytelling and camerawork which could induce motion sickness for some people, it is of course very dark and disturbing, with extreme violence that made even me cringe. Much like Antichrist, I can’t in good conscious recommend Irreversible. It’s a good movie for sure, it’s just that if you’re going to watch it you’ll have to be prepared for it, and even then there’s a 95% chance that you won’t be, I certainly wasn’t.