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In the mid 1990's, 20 French urban dancers join together for a three-day rehearsal in a closed-down boarding school located at the heart of a forest to share one last dance. They then make one last party around a large sangria bowl. Quickly, the atmosphere becomes charged and a strange madness will seize them the whole night. If it seems obvious to them that they have been drugged, they neither know by who nor why. And it's soon impossible for them to resist to their neuroses and psychoses, numbed by the hypnotic and the increasing electric rhythm of the music. While some feel in paradise, most of them plunge into hell.Written by
Gapar Noé got the cast into the dissociative druggy psychosis mindset by preparing a collection of the best videos he could find on the web of people high on crack, high on ecstasy, high on acid. Also the dancers were encouraged to take whatever experiential aspects stuck out to them from the videos and run with them in the film. See more »
While the movie is supposed to be set in 1996, which is confirmed by the clothes, the music and the lack of smartphones, the French spoken in the film is very much 2010s, with many anglicisms or other recent verbal tics heard throughout the movie. This is due to the improvised dialogue from the cast working off of a five-page script. See more »
The jobs in the opening credits are replaced with symbols. (e.g. a film strip with scissors for editing, ballet shoes for dance choreographer, etc) See more »
What to Do
Composed and Performed by Thomas Bangalter
(c) Delabel Editions/Daft Music
(p) 1995 Daft Trax
Courtesy of Daft Trax, Daft Music, Delabel Edition France for France and Concord Music Publishing See more »
"Climax" is less of a film than it is a visceral experience, and that will immediately turn off a good population of moviegoers who will invariable dismiss it as "artsy garbage." If you're one of these people who can't stand films made by "artsy" directors, what are you even doing going to see a Gaspar Noé movie?
But whew. If you appreciate film or dance, you are going to be blown away by this masterpiece. This is "Step Up" on crack cocaine.
A group of young people who subscribe to an underground dance culture meet for a three-day weekend of intense rehearsal. On the final night, during their closing party, someone spikes the sangria, and well....best not to say much more.
The first 45-60 minutes of the film are made up of impeccably choreographed dance sequences that had my eyes glued to the screen like I had just rail-lined a bunch of Ritalin. Some may call this "boring" but I found it to be electrifying and mesmerizing. The music in the film is constant, like you're watching it in a nightclub instead of a theater. Electronic powerhouses such as Thomas Bangalter, Giorgio Moroder, and Aphex Twin contribute to the dazzling soundtrack. After the first dance sequence, which lasts about 10-15 minutes, I wanted to stand up and applaud. Then I forgot that I was in a movie theater.
I especially enjoyed the cast of characters, which reminded me so much of my days doing musical theater in high school. If you've done performing arts in either high school or college, you will appreciate "Climax" on an entirely different level. The awkward politics of being in such a troupe come out in full force -- while everyone is generally nice to one another, rivalries and furious envy exist in the shadows, in addition to cutthroat attitudes and the occasional best friend / power couple dynamic. When things go wrong after the sangria is spiked, these politics are blown up into a larger than life spectacle. It was a neurotic joy to watch unfold.
And boy do things get wild. The key theme once the action begins is pure, unadulterated panic. Gaspar Noé's trademark direction brings us back to the chaotic, irregularly lit sequences seen in "Irreversible." The action is so dense. Some keep dancing. Some commit acts of violence. Some have passionate sex on the dance floor. Your eyes and senses are overwhelmed and you have no idea where to look, until a fast camera pan takes you to a completely different part of the room.
Speaking of which, the cinematography is top notch (although that's a running theme in Noé's repertoire). You've got all kinds of shots here -- dutch angles, long cuts that contribute to the chaos, even slow inversions that make you feel as if you are in a fun house at the Jersey Shore. It's incredibly disorienting, nauseating, and a whole lot of fun.
While watching, I also noticed a lot of similarities to Aronofsky's "Black Swan." If you enjoyed that one, definitely check out "Climax."
The ending of the film seems less complete than it should, but it's really no big deal, and does not spoil or ruin the rest of the film.
This is one roller coaster I'd happily ride again, and I'd say it is destined to become a midnight cult classic. Keep on dancing.
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