On The Big Screen Reviews

Climax – Review

Provocative. Crazed. Controversial.

These are just a few words that have been used to describe Gasper Noe’s work. The French director has made a career for himself in producing extreme horror work that has polarised audiences and critics. Noe seems to revel in the controversy and that hasn’t stopped him producing movies such as Love or Enter the Void.  In fact, people are so split on opinion that they have used it in his latest films marketing campaign.

That movie being Climax, a film that seems to have been the received from critics following Cannes and Frightfest, but is it a good enough movie to make a song and a dance about?

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Climax revolves around dancer Selva who assembles a team of dancers in an isolated hall for a massive dance party. As the drinks start to flow, it becomes increasingly clear that someone has spiked their sangria with LSD. As the drugs start to kick in, the night soon descends into absolute chaos.

There is no denying that Noe is a bold filmmaker. Who else would display his inspirations such as Suspiria or George Romero’s Dawn of the Dead as videotapes on the big screen right at the beginning? It is in the visuals of the filmmaking where Noe really excels here. Working with cinematographer Benoit Debie and choreographer Nina McNeely, the fluidity of the visuals in a mind-bending and twisted manner brings a kinetic energy to the “horror.” From the amazing dancing at the beginning of the film to the distorted mayhem that ensures, the camera rushes sublimely through the unfolding drama. The angles contort alongside the dancers and in hues of bright red and green, the madness really unfolds in a dizzying and gorgeous way. It truly is a spectacle to behold.

Sofia Boutella is absolutely spell-binding as Selva who takes us mostly through skirmishes and shenanigans. Boutella, best known as Giselle in Kingsman’s first outing but as France’s greatest dancer, is able to capture the paranoia perfectly whilst also shifting and shaping herself

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The problem with Climax is that the storyline is so thin that the action becomes banal. In fact, the film feels as though a twelve year old boy made it because  Shock is not driven by the horrific actions themselves; they are driven by story and character. With merely moments to spend with our dancers, each with their own particular brand of issues, there is no connection to them. The trauma is superfluous then because we frankly do not care, and the vile acts on display become terribly boring after a while. We’ve seen rape, murder, drugs, fire, blood, and more for a while on our cinema screens – if you want to truly dig under our skin, weight the punches with spirit and soul.

That being said, Climax is a fairly decent viewing and probably beckons you to watch it again, If not for the story, then for the sheer twisted beauty of it’s visuals, The dance sequences will have you enthralled even if there isn’t much depth to the story. Noe said that he was inspired by dancers he saw in Paris  It is just a shame that Noe picked style over substance and found no one to make them both dance impeccably on the screen.

Regardless of everything, Gasper Noe has certainly made an hour and a half long PSA about why it’s bad to take drugs. Just don’t do it kids.


Climax is out in cinemas 21st September.

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