Starring Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub, Kiddy Smile
Gaspar Noé is the type of experimental filmmaker that gives cinema a bad name. “Climax” proves a couple of points; Point one: a standing ovation at the Cannes Film Festival means nothing, and Point Two: Noé guarantees that most viewers unlucky enough to find themselves the victim of watching this movie will have the worst experience of their life. Shot in 15 days (a very short amount of time compared to most feature length films) and that brevity can be felt with the material. With no script, just demented acting and dancing, “Climax” might make more sense as a zombie movie. The only cast member you’ll likely recognize is Sofia Boutella (“Star Trek Beyond,” “The Kingsman“). As for the remaining cast, well let’s just say, this movie won’t land them any high profile work.
A group of young dancers celebrates joining a new company at a party where they are served drug-laced laced sangria. Unaware that the punch they are drinking might be the last thing they ever consume, each dancer reacts to the drug in a different way. Selva (Boutella) has more than a fair share of the drink and is one of the first to feel the effects. Two members of the group, one pregnant and one who doesn’t drink alcohol, avoided the sangria, but are abused and ousted by the others. As the long night rages on, some members of the group continue dancing the night away, even after the power goes off. Others fight, one person catches on fire, some give in to hedonistic passions, others vomit or urinate on the dance floor, but the party continues even after a few of them die.
Noé guarantees that most viewers unlucky enough to find themselves the victim of watching this movie will have the worst experience of their life.
If the point of “Climax” is to say something about music, it fails. If Noé has something nuanced to convey about dance, he fails here. If the overall redeeming purpose of “Climax” is to explore the effects of drug use, he fails there as well. In interviews, the filmmaker has expressed most of his movies come from nightmares. I would suggest to Noé that he keep those nightmares to himself, and not torture the rest of us with them. “Climax” fails to present the audience with anything interesting. The characters have no more depth than the crackhead on the street or the overly drunken college student right before he passes out. The cinematography also mirrors someone under the influence, erratic, often upside down and rarely actually showing the audience what they want to see.
“Climax” is a film that pushes the audience away, and very early on you stop caring what happens to anyone in the story. Pregnant girl just got kicked in the stomach, who cares. Little kid electrocuted, whatever. Atmosphere isn’t something that can fuel an entire film. The non-actors who make up the most of the cast are simply reacting, not performing. There isn’t a single element to applaud or brag on in this film that runs the credits even before the title sequence, because it seems to understand half the audience will leave before the conclusion. Gaspar Noé’s “Climax” will be hard to beat as one of the worst films of 2019, a new gold standard.
Gaspar Noé’s latest film "Climax" punks audiences into thinking they are watching cinema.