Climax (2018) - 7/10
This starts with our cast, all dancers being interviewed. Their VHS recordings played back on an old CRT TV framed with DVDs and books. It’s impossible not to pick out titles like Suspiria, Un Chien Andalou, Possession and books from Kafka, Fritz Lang and Nietzsche and not begin to expect a wild ride. Gaspar Noé is at the helm, so expect the unexpected. To be honest, it’s hard to get a handle on to start. The group is large and have a habit of dancing everywhere so you have to keep up. Everyone’s getting to know one another at a party after rehearsal. The music loud, the camera moving fluidly through long takes, sweeping around as they drink sangria and complement each other’s dance moves. Before it morphs into a series of confessional vignettes, two characters at a time in corners of the room, amplifying the brewing tension, mostly sexual and setting the dynamic of the group. The setting is some abandon theatre space. It’s not rundown, but it has character and along with the frenetic choreography and camera work, it’s a heady mix. Something is going to go wrong. The first half is a swirling messy set up, punctuated at the half way point by the credits in the now typical Noé graphic style. It’s a bit jarring, but works well for what’s about to come. The room is reset. The party dwindling. Our dancers exhausted. The tone muted and menacing. The sangria is spiked with LSD, the messy narrative is about to be usurped by murderous nightmarish rampage that spirals far beyond any semblance of control. The one take long shot returns with a devastating sequence that runs unfathomably long, a magnificent piece of hellish choreography in itself, soundtracked by Aphex Twin, M/A/R/R/S, Daft Punk and screaming… a lot of screaming. There’s a lot asked of these actors and they all deliver. Totally believable in their debauched craziness. The whole thing is magnificent though, from the obvious to the less so. The lighting crew for instance, bloody phenomenal. I have to be honest though, despite its successes. It’s structural mess makes it hard to enjoy and for all the chaos, it’s oddly linear. That said, it’s certainly one to be seen by anyone who appreciates challenging cinema. It’s not my favourite Noé, but it certainly is a wild ride.