Climax (2018) Poster

(I) (2018)

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A disgusting morally reprehensible piece of insane genius
Bertaut8 October 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Climax, the latest film from Argentinian-French provocateur Gaspar Noé, is a disturbing, depraved, disgusting, and debauched piece of absolute insane genius that I thoroughly adored from beginning to end, and which I never, ever, want to see again. Lord of the Flies by way of Heronimus Bosch or Zdzislaw Beksinski, Climax is what you might get if you mashed-up Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma (1975), Mother! (2017), and Step Up (2006); a dance movie that morphs into a horror film, which then attempts to show the audience a literal hell on Earth. With Climax, Noe takes the audience and characters further than ever before. Granted, there's nothing here to rival The Butcher's sickening attack on his pregnant wife from Seul contre tous (1998), or the near-unwatchable rape or fire extinguisher scenes from Irréversible (2002). However, whereas those films feature sudden moments of barbaric violence punctuating (relatively) quotidian narratives, in Climax, the oppressive feeling of dread is unrelenting. So even though the acts of violence are not, in themselves, as extreme as some of those in Noé's back-catalogue, the cumulative effect is far worse. Obviously, this makes the film something of an endurance test, even at only 96 minutes, but this is precisely the point - Noé wants the audience to be utterly exhausted by the end, and he employs numerous confrontational and disorientating techniques to achieve such.

In lieu of any kind of title card or opening credits, Climax begins with an abstract and non-descript shot of pure white. So visually indeterminate is the image (it could literally be anything) that at the screening I attended, most people (myself included) didn't even realise the film had begun. It is only as a girl staggers into shot from the top of the frame that it becomes apparent we are looking directly downwards onto a snowfield. The girl is in great distress, leaving a trail of blood in her wake. After a moment, she collapses onto the snow, her body convulsing, unable to go any further. The camera then revolves upwards along the vertical-axis through 360 degrees, a shot anyone familiar with Noé's work will immediately recognise. Revealing the bare branches of a few nearby threadbare trees, the movement immediately establishes that we are in an isolated location in the dead of winter. By the time the frame returns to its starting position, the girl's struggles have fashioned a hideously disproportioned and asymmetrical red-tinted snow angel. Theoretically, this could be the cliched opening scene to any generic slasher movie. However, the striking imagistic composition and the economy with which the shot conveys so much information serve to betray the fact that this is not the work of an anonymous journeyman for hire, but is instead the meticulously composed opening salvo of an auteur who knows precisely what he's doing.

A moment later, the entire closing credits roll (upwards, obviously), right to the copyright information. Initially, I didn't fully understand the point of this. Obviously, the opening shot is, chronologically speaking, pretty late in the narrative, so I was thinking it was just Noé being cute, alerting us to the fact that we'd just seen the closing scene. However, it was only when the film ended that I realised the absolute genius of this aesthetic decision; with no closing credits at the end, the audience is allowed no transition from the film to reality. As the film ended, the lights immediately popped on, with no music to play us out, no darkened theatre to recompose ourselves. Indeed, to enhance the sense of discombobulation for which Noé is obviously striving, the last 15 minutes or so of the film are literally upside-down. The audience is thus placed in the same position as the characters - the absence of closing credits and the inverted image create a sense of confusion and discomfort, just as the film is depicting the surviving dancers coming out of their drug-induced mania and back to the real world. As he attempts to do throughout the film, Noé places the audience directly into the psychological reality of the characters.

After the opening scene, the film then cuts to a TV screen showing the dancers' audition interviews, which do a terrific job of establishing the differing characters, as do the dialogue scenes after the rehearsal but before the LSD has kicked in. The third scene is the dance number, which is easily the best dance sequence I've ever seen on film. Shot in a continuous 20 minute take, the dancers move at extraordinary speeds, with no single position held for more than a second or two. The single-take grants the scene a sense of real-time immediacy and in-camera verisimilitude which one can usually only acquire from a live performance - this isn't something constructed by an editor from a series of individual takes, this is something literally happening before our eyes. Indeed, although it's shot in one take, the camera is anything but stationary, moving back and forth, and oftentimes directly above the dancers. In this sense, the viewer is not only watching the dance, they are, in effect, participants. Again, Noé is working to transpose the audience into the world of the film - he doesn't simply show us a dance sequence, he tries to include us in it.

Thus ends the first section of the film. The second, and much shorter, section is the dancers engaged in conversation with one another (and, in contrast to the first section, is made up of a multitude of edits eschewing any sense of match-cutting). The third, and longest, section sees them realise the sangria is spiked, attempt to find out who did it, and the chaos that ensues when the drugs take hold. These three sections (dance, conversations, and drugs) roughly correspond to the three books of the Divina Commedia - Paradiso, Purgatorio, and Inferno. However, in the poem, the order is Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso, charting the ascension of the soul from the Inferno of Hades to the Paradiso of spiritual unification with God and Christ in heaven. In the film, the movement is in the opposite direction, as the Paradiso of the harmonious and unified perfection in the dance sequence gives way to the calm Purgatorio after the consumption of the LSD, but before it has taken over their reason. Finally, they descend to the Inferno - the dance-hall becomes a hell on Earth, bathed in deep reds and greens.

Perhaps the most noticeable similarity between the dance sequence and the third section of the film is that both are shot in single-takes. The drug sequence lasts 42 minutes, and is presented as one continuous shot of the world collapsing in front of the characters' eyes (although in reality, it is several long takes where the edits have been disguised, à la Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014)). Following first one character before trading off to someone with whom they have interacted, the camera moves almost ballet-like throughout the space, sweeping in and around the characters as they fall apart. The lack of any editing, as with the dance sequence, enhances the immediacy of the image, heightening the sense of paranoia from which the entire group are now suffering, and leaving the audience as exposed as the characters themselves.

As the veneer of civilisation is stripped away, the characters devolve before our eyes; some become concerned only with sex, others with violence. Indeed, Noé tells The Telegraph, "It's like the start of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), we see the apes and then they evolve into humans, and in the case of my film it is like the humans go back to being apes. Humans are going back to their original forces. LSD or mainly alcohol can bring you back to a more reptilian way of thinking, you are not human anymore. It is all about survival, about reproducing species, about sex and domination."

But is there any kind of theme underpinning the whole thing, or is it shocking for the sake of being shocking? Possibly. For example, there is some kind of political point buried beneath the carnage; the dance sequence takes place in front of a massive French flag, whilst the credits declare, "A French Film. And proud of it." Perhaps related to this, the troupe is made up of a cross-section of Europeans, and in the explosion of excess hedonism and hysterical mayhem, does this cross-section of ethnicities, genders, and sexual orientations come to represent European multiculturalism tearing itself apart? Is Noé saying that if France continues to accommodate such a diversity of disparate cultures, chaos will ensue?

In relation to this, perhaps tellingly, Omar (Adrien Sissoko), the person who is initially blamed for spiking the sangria, is Muslim. So, is Noé saying that in such a multicultural milieu, with fear of Islam at a high, it's very easy to blame everything on the Islamic "Other". Additionally, Noé depicts the dance scene with such reverence and awe that this kind of social critique, barely straddling the line between patriotism and xenophobia, doesn't seem to sit especially comfortably. Not to mention that Noé himself is an immigrant - he was born in Argentina, moving to France when he was 13.

The fact is, I don't have a clue what Climax is about. Nor do I care. Nor is it important. I take it for what it appears on the surface; an incredibly technically proficient depiction of a contemporary Inferno, as aesthetically impressive as it is morally questionable, as enthralling as it is disturbing, a film of unparalleled barbarism, that also stands as one of the most extraordinary cinematic achievements in recent years. It's a work of genius. Twisted, sick, depraved genius, but genius nonetheless. It disturbed me like no film in at least a decade, and I couldn't get it out of my head for days afterwards. I absolutely loved every single crazy minute of it. And I don't ever wish to see it again. For Noé, I can think of no higher compliment.
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In an attempt to be different, arty or jus to shock audiences, film makers resort to cheap stuff like repugnant n erotic gossips.....
Fella_shibby15 February 2019
70 mins of erotic n repugnant gossips, unnecessary dance movements, loud music n the last 20 mins of headache inducing flickering lights, upside down shots of bizarre stuff n weird camera angles makes it a boring n abysmal film. Pls don't call this cinema or film. It is jus another lame excuse to pretend to be different n arty.
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This is not a movie to watch, this is an experience to have
baba-jo6 November 2018
Well, if you are going to watch a gaspar noe movie you should know what you are going to experience; search Gaspar Noe. But this movie will probably be the most popular Noe movie among popular culture or social media or whatever. So, this is a warning for those who hasn't watched a noe flm before. This is not a familiar movie for you, do not expect to see a convenient work of art.

Yet, this is an experience for you to must have. Perfect side of "cinema" to create different perspective. Do not care about plot, do not care about subtle messages. Just use your eyes, try not the think about what you see. What you are going to see is an experience through the eyes of a phantom among dancers. Phantom is there, phantom sees what they see, feels what they feel, even drinks what they drink. So, you are going to completely involve in, engage in the movie.

After the movie you may like it or not, you can even hate it. But the "ride" you will have will be a lifetime experience from movies you have watched or will possibly watch.
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Was hoping for much more
rocco-881-45972630 November 2018
CLIMAX or how long can you stand watching boring dancers and average at best actors pretend to be on drugs? Zero story, lots of screaming, no surprises. I'd even say this film is pretty tame (for Noé). And it's neither radical nor inventive anymore to simply turn the camera upside down or to show the end credits first. Apart from big respect for some well done one-shot moments, I'm quite disappointed.
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An intense, exhilarating, exciting and terrifying experience.
james-re25 June 2018
I always feel excited and a little bit anxious watching a new film by French director Gaspar Noe. His past films have have included the controversial "Irreversible" known for its unflinching and brutal portrayal of sexual violence, the mind bending and psychedelic trip that is "Enter the Void" and the erotic drama "Love" which features unsimulated sex presented in 3D. Noe is pushing the limits for not only what Is allowed to be shown in a film but also for what the film medium is capabale of. Unconventional narrative structures, mind bending visuals and camera angles you wouldn't even dream of. These are just a few things that can be found in his films.

I am happy to say that Climax may be Noe's tamest film in terms of its sex and violence. And I am very excited to say that it may also be the best film he has made yet. I feel that it's best to know as little as possible about the film before seeing it to have the best possible experience. What I will say though is that the film grips you from the start, and only tightens that grip throughout the running time. The film makes use of one location and one situation and one set of characters to put you in the moment. The excitement and exuberance that you feel during the first dance sequence which is shot entirely in one take will change and evolve throughout the film into sequences that are much more frightening and intense. Go along for the ride though because it is a unique work of filmmaking worth seeing in a cinema and if you hold on tight, you may experience something that is close to an outer body experience.
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benyoo13 January 2019
I can see the idea. But I am sorry to say, the acting was not believable, the reactions neither - what drugs should cause this? I´m feeling strange, I´m feeling strange.....flicking into aggression into sheer violence. Sorry no, this crazy behaviour is so unrelated to drugs, it is only grotesque.
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robbag9311 February 2019
I didnt think anything could be worse than open water, but here we are, complete nonsense. Horrible acting and nothing to keep you intrested, just chaos.
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Arthouse rubbish, reviews and ratings cannot be trusted
iwalker1130 January 2019
Entirely set in factory building complex of some sort, a bunch of arthouse dancers performing their modern art dance routines (awful in other words) are spiked with an unknown drug and freak out a bit. That's the entire film.

This film is utter garbage, two of the dance routines last a combined 25 minutes, it should come with a warning that this film will only appeal to pretentious modern art lovers.
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Why? WTF?
hamon_h11 January 2019
Short and poor storyline, no tension arc, too much drama. Good dancers, good music. At the end it was a waste of time and only one question: why?
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Bored to tears
super-leeds27 January 2019
Warning: Spoilers
Jesus Mary and joseph, where to begin with this MOVIE.


Decent tunes Decent choreography


Every scene is drawn out Acting is not believable Upside down camera work at the end was annoying No conclusion Was NOT a horror Boring. Don't waste your time

This film made me write a review for the 1st time in 8 years and my last review was driller killer. Enough said... The end.
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Do not lose your time, do not watch this film.
dolidzegeorges31 January 2019
Let me be honest: I have never seen such a terrible movie. I have no idea how it has 7,6 out of 10. I guess some people gave 10 just because it's about their life style (dance, rave, drugs...)

Story is disgusting, annoying. Film is awful. Acting is so unreal.

I was forcing myselft to wait till the end...

Advice: Do no lose 1 hour & 36 minutes for this movie, if it can be called so.
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What the hell happened to Gaspar Noe?
fivelocks1 February 2019
The movie script appears to have been written by an amateur who has never used drugs. Was that the same Gaspar Noe from Irreversible and Enter The Void who wrote it? A GIGANTIC retrograde.
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It's not a movie, it's just nothing and boring
andy-anthoine29 January 2019
Seriously, this is not a movie, a movie has a plot, something... this is nothing. There is nothing interesting to watch, nothing happens, it's boring, it's uninteresting, it's not even "well made", the casting is bad, they really don't act well (and i'm french, saw it in french, so, it's not a translation problem)

It's the first time i take time to write a review for a movie on imdb, and i love cinema, but i had to do this to save everyone 1H30 of nothing... just stay away from that thing...
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Super boring
bart_v506 February 2019
The first half of the movie is super boring and after that it's just weird. When the movie ended I got in a fight with my girlfriend because I thought it was boring. So overall a very unpleasant experience.
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My god! We ruined everything!
vassago-original7 February 2019
Moder day society ruined everything. The only thing interesting about this movie is first sceen on the snow. Other than that, absolute disaster. There is one thing to point out tho. Movie shows who are the youth today. THIS IS YOU. GO AND SEE HOW YOU LOOK TO US, who knew what art was, who knew what a movies used to be like. This is utter crao. Large rating because, people today lost every sense for what is good. We killed every art, we ruined music, we even want to ruin man and woman. We are completely derranged society.
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Shocking, dazzling, extraordinary filmmaking
sossevarvo18 June 2018
Gaspar Noe is an infamous filmic provocateur, who has inspired the kind of aggressive derision and accordant lofty praise that would be the envy of most other directors. With Climax, he is as dynamic, acerbic and occasionally pretentious as ever, resulting in a film that could be made by no one else, and an experience that is utterly harrowing and genuinely original. His ensemble is uniformly believable, giving the scenes of utter chaos a sense of gruelling horror the likes of which I haven't quite experienced in any other film. The soundtrack is booming, the cinematography dizzying, the narrative utterly insane and brazen... an absolute must see, albeit not for the faint of heart.
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Cheap thrills
dascalu_mihai16 November 2018
Had many expectations before watching this "art" movie... However, I was left dumbstruck with the "salad" of shocker put all together in such a mainstream movie going for an arthouse movie. Tackles and puts in your face too many taboos and (still?) controversial issues such as homosexuality, abortion, rape, incest, drugs and so on. Lacks an intriguing story in my opinion. Visual mambo-jumbo and musical hysteria! Watch it if you don't have anything else better to do... Such a pity the soundtrack is so cool and rich in 70s and 80s electro and disco hits and wasted on such a flick!
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Why is this movie 7.7 fake reviews for sure
kaefab25 January 2019
This movie starts off boring, and i could not finish it, feels like i was in a bad party, where each scene jumps to another with people talking and saying nothing.

I just stop half way out of pure boredom, how is this rated horror? when all you see is people talking smoking and drinking.... WOW
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Very bizarre!!
amgee-8955125 January 2019
Climax is one of the most weirdest film I have ever seen. The plot was terrible. The acting was all over the place. The cinematography was beautiful but that didn't make the film any good. I definitely wouldn't watch it again. One time watch most definitely. Very strange Film. 2/10
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French Garbage cinema pretending to be art
hampersnow-289055 February 2019
A bunch of dancers have a really bad drug trip and that is the entire plot to this movie if you can even call it a movie. We are introduced to the dancers in sequences that go on way too long. After that it's people writhing around, moaning, screaming and crying and for the most part nothing else at all. The camera rotates and films scenes upside down. At times you can't even tell what's going on , on screen. There is no editing. There is plenty of over-acting. Swirling camera work doesn't make up for the fact that there is no story and the entire movie is a bore set to dance music. Gather all your friends in a room , stand in the middle of it shaking the camera at them while they pretend to be lunatics and you'll recreate whatever this is. Maybe this was an experiment in how much stupidity an audience can endure ?
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Most Boring Movie I've Ever Had To Sit Through
lhaart-6230313 February 2019
Warning: Spoilers
In a nutshell: a bunch of unattractive French people doing nothing but talking, laughing, drinking and making jerky dance moves. Bad acting, no plot, nothing really happens. Reading a 500 page life insurance policy woud be more interesting.
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Terrible film
maciek429 October 2018
I understand that this film is for certain type of audience. Perhaps you have to view it on LSD to enjoy it. To me it was simply boring. You go to the cinema to be entertained, not bored. At the end of the film I could hear people laughing and asking "what was that all about?".
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Utterly boring and untolerable
zezgiacar6 November 2018
Why is this a thing? For the first time ever, I left the theatre before the movie ends. I demand my money back!
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A Haunting Ball
nikxatz15 October 2018
I watched Climax without knowing any plot detail or having watched and footage that had to do with the film.But, even if I had watched them, I assure you that nothing can prepare you for what you will expercience while watching this film- Climax is a truly immersive and intoxicating ride that cannot be described or compared to anything else. Gaspar Noe plays with your mind and your emotions in every way possible. The nightmarish cineatography, the unsetting colours apperaing in the screen, the horryfiyng soundtrack ( Supernature is spectacular!), the the non-stop movement of the camera and the incredible work by the cast- which mainly consists of kids between 18 to 23 years old who only do sorts of krump dance-offs or voguing balls mash up in a 1 and a half hour film which is as electrifiyng as hell. I really admire such films, that are able to make you part of their universe, even if it is totally odd and ablnormal, and force you to feel one of with the situation, thus creating a completely genuine cinematic expericence. I also love the filrst dance scene, which is actually a single shot and you can actually see the amount of effort that the actors put to take you by the hand and pull you in their own world filled with fleeting plesures. And this is what CLIMAX really is. It's horrifying but beautiful, sick but true, dark but colourful, dead but alive. It's nothing BUT everything. Now, let's dance
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A good performance of "instruments" is not already art
runblack-email10 November 2018
The camera work, acting - just great. Realistic. Involving. Shocking. But only to make any emotion is not already something genious. You can leave the things unflushed in your toilet and it will definatelly make someone awfull, someone laughing. But that doesn't mean you made a piece of art.
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