Climax – Too Much Chaos

Rating (2.5 out of 5)

Summary: “Climax” offers powerful moments and provocative visuals. The artsy fartsy will clamor about the meaning of life and death “Climax” attempts to convey. The movie is an idea where the director visualized the majestic images in his head but forgot to provide the audience with a reason to care about the troop and the characters. The visual shock and awe technique attempted to gloss over a lack of a true story. My wife would rate the movie a 0, and I am extremely blessed she couldn’t screen the movie with me.

I don’t feel unique in my opinion, as in the theater I heard a communal groan of “I paid for this”. Now it could have been a communal groan “of that was the best ever”, but I don’t think I interpreted the sigh wrong.

As a note, Alama Drafthouse offered a Q&A over Skype with Gasper Noé. While, obviously I had issues with the film, hearing comments from the Directors about music rights, choreography, the dancers, was extremely interesting.

Plot: After a rehearsal, a dance troop celebrates but someone has spiked the sangria with LCD.

Detail: The opening dance sequence is executed brilliantly and an exceptional foyer into the movie. Because the dance leaned towards hip-hop, the scene exuded energy and power, grabbing the audience. There is another dance scene as the group becomes intoxicated which missed the mark. Filmed with the camera looking down onto the dance circle, the angle squashed the power of the transition, from exuberant dance to chaotic intoxication. Also, the scene went too long.

There is a sequence after the rehearsal where everyone has separated from the larger group and is talking with their friends or acquaintances. The brief moment is where we learn more about the characters true nature. In particular, two men dressed in black engaged in a humorous and realistic discussion in which the main subject was about sex. I could imagine two young men having this exchange even if their boasts of sex were mere bravado.

As we enter the chaotic second half of the movie, the film advances rapidly from pushing on the edge of complex subjects shifting into absolute chaos. The “edge” portion of the film was enjoyable but tough. Two of the non-drinkers are persecuted by the group for spiking the sangria, including one who is beaten into a miscarriage.

Had we maintained the balance on the proverbial edge, “Climax” would have been fantastic. But we went over the edge and the movie suffered. As an example, Selva (Sofia Boutella) the choreographer has witnessed horrific events and is desperately clinging to her sanity as things are falling apart. She has one particular scene, where she freaks out, but rather than a typical lashing out the scene turns into a wild dance. It felt forced as if we were providing the actress/dancer an opportunity to explore her characters feelings through dance.

Long shots are utilized predominantly in “Climax”, but there is nothing special about them anymore. Near the end, the camera started filming the scenes upside down. The director relied on effect to create chaos rather than focus on the characters. Then there is how the filmed ended. It appeared the director only had an hour of the movie script and decided to occupy the remaining time with unsettling visuals.

There are individuals we learned details about in the beginning but they are abandoned in the chaos. David (Romain Guillermic) who is the ladies man of the group, who talks big, but is sort of discarded in the end. The the two guys talking sex I mentioned earlier were disappointingly relegated to props in the end.