2018, Movies

Climax (2018, Gaspar Noé)

Well, I can honestly say I’ve never anything like this. So that’s something.

I think the idea of merging genres that have never been merged before is appealing. But any genre mash up is only as good as its story or characters and, well, this movie doesn’t have a plot, really, and it doesn’t have characters, it has archetypes.

This is an aggressively avant garde film which combines scenes of filmed dance with unusual film techniques and some bare semblance of plot and “character.” It is, in many ways, two movies: One is just a bunch of extremely horny dancers dancing and then celebrating their successful rehearsal by, um, dancing again. The other is the horror film that ensues when they start feeling weird. They are tonally very, very different to the point where, I said aloud “oh, this is a horror film?” something like 45 minutes in. (I regularly forget about movies I put on my list and don’t like to learn anything new if I can avoid it.)

This is a pretentious film and it wears its pretension on its sleeve. We are given text on the screen – always a good sign – telling us all sorts of things, only some of which seem to be relevant to the movie. The credits are at the beginning of the movie, which is something I thought of when I was 17 but didn’t have the resources (or, um, the “talent”) to force on you all. There are some pretty impressive long takes, but I honestly don’t know if they were stitched together using the wonders of digital film or whether they were real. And things go awry with the lighting and eventually the camera turns upside down for way too long.

The story and character are a mess: there are far too many characters and not enough development. It’s really hard to keep track of all of them especially once everything turns red. (Yes, the film just turns red for a while.) And the main characters feel like archetypes who have “typical” conflicts rather than real people. (And none of them are likable, of course.) Some of this is on the actors, who are mostly not actors but dancers. (Though the physical acting is excellent, as you might imagine.) But a lot of this is on the “story” which is basically just improvised, apparently. It’s particularly odd that it was supposedly improvised given that the worst things that are done during the horror part of the film are all committed by the black members of the cast. (We both noticed it. I hope that those actors are the ones who came up with those things, rather than the white “writer”/director.) But anyway, there isn’t much plot, it doesn’t make much sense, and it sure doesn’t make sense what one of the two sober people does.

But it’s certainly a unique film. And I think that, had I seen it in theatres, I might have been more impressed by the craziness and the ballsiness of it. Instead, I was kind of bored, despite how nuts it is.


PS Can anyone who has taken LSD confirm that this behaviour could happen? Because I kind of think they picked the wrong drug.

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