The new film from French provocateur Gaspar Noé isn’t as extreme as his previous work, but will still make you squirm.
Noé’s modus operandi is sending an audience to Hell – through protracted sexual violence (Irreversible), a butcher’s mental breakdown (I Stand Alone), and the POV of a lost soul (Enter the Void). In Climax, a dance party descends into in a frenzy of madness, hysteria and desperation after somebody spikes the sangria with LSD.
The diverse ensemble who embark on this bad trip are a dance troupe of talented, flexible and oversexed twenty-somethings, who are introduced via audition-interview videos before assembling in a shabby hall where they bust their moves in an extraordinarily choreographed routine that plays like Fame colliding with Suspiria.
Then its party time, the performers pairing off to discuss their hopes, fears and desires while knocking back the acid-laced beverage. It’s the calm before the storm.
Once the drug kicks in, chaos truly reigns. Noé doesn’t resort to psychedelic visuals but rather lets his cavorting camera and convulsing performers create the disorienting effect of the collective insanity.
Climax might seem restrained by Noé’s standards (despite the title there’s no unsimulated sex), but the cumulative effect of this particular trip to Hell will still leave you with a headache. But that’s the point. It’s the cinematic equivalent of attending a party full of smashed revellers while remaining sober.
In cinemas: December 6, 2018
Starring: Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub
Directed by: Gaspar Noé