Gaspar Noé seems to have a penchant for shocking audiences with his trippy films that bring us into a world of drugs, sex and madness. In the same vein as his previous work, Climax is a visually captivating experience. But in terms of the actual plot, one has to wonder if it’s not redundant. A director’s style is certainly important to maintain, however, it shouldn’t be a limitation to the type of stories they’re able to tell.
With the help of a driving techno score and phenomenal cinematography, Noé is successfully able to bring the audience on a literal acid trip of a journey. Allegedly based on a true story, the movie follows an ensemble cast of dancers who are gathered at a retreat in France. It’s the last night and they’re having a party to celebrate. It’s discovered that someone has laced the bowl of sangria with LSD and as the drugs hit, their world devolves into a collective bad trip that goes tragically wrong for some. The camera dips in and out of a personified state, creating an amplifying spaced-out effect. There are notably few cuts, allowing for the camera joins that dance and become a character in the manic orgy. Technically, it’s quite a feat and also a testament to the strength of the performers for keeping up with the complex choreography required for the long takes.
The cast brings an extremely generous energy to the screen. It’s a shame that it’s a bit wasted on scenes that largely involve scantily clad girls writhing on the floor and hyper-masculine male characters discussing which of their female peers they would have sex with in far more graphic terms. Furthermore, the climax of Climax is when the audience is thrown into an audio-visual representation of what would be the drugs peaking, which in itself isn’t a critique except that we’ve seen the same exact scene in Enter the Void. It begs the question: is Noé a one-trick pony?
The repetitive story coupled with the manifesto-like statements on the impossibility of life and the extraordinariness of death that are dispersed as title cards throughout give off an air of pomp but without much punch to back it up. Climax just doesn’t quite live up to the director’s reputation to surprise.
Climax does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2018 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for Climax here: