Time: 161 Minutes
Age Rating: Violence, sexual content, self-harm, drug use & offensive language
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.
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.