‘Climax’ is familiar territory for Gasper Noe. Controversial. Bold. Experimental. Dizzying. Climax is everything that you would want to in a Gasper Noe film — and the some. The only difference, this time he is also musical, which only ends up elevating the film. Many people question the reason as to why experimental cinema should be encouraged. To them, I say, watch ‘Climax’.
Noe gained worldwide fame (or ill fame) after ‘Irreversible‘. A film that many hate; and as many love. It created a furore when it first premiered at Cannes, so much so that several members of the audience walked out from the screening. Some were even left sick. Surprisingly, ‘Climax’ has been much warmly received in comparison. Not that climax is any less controversial, but it seems like critics have come to expect the unexpected from Noe. And that helped several, including me, to go into the film with an open mind and come out with a smile. Yes smile! Not just me, but I saw several other critics smiling when after the lights came on. The reason many of us were smiling because we were amazed by the audacity of Noe to have pulled off a film that has no right even being remotely fascinating. How on earth can someone blend EDM, drugs, dance, suspense, blood, sex, incest and still create a coherent film? But by using the same tricks he has used in his previous films — that is by involving audiences in the scene on the screen rather than the story — Noe keeps you engaged from beginning to the end.
Climax is about a troupe of young dancers who gather in a remote building to rehearse a dance performance. Following an unforgettable opening performance, the troupe begins an all-night celebration. The diverse group has several personal issues and share gossip about one another during the celebration.
As the night progresses, several dancers in the group get agitated and confused. Soon it is revealed that their sangria has been spiked with LSD. First the group accuse Emmanuelle, the organizer of the event, of spiking the punch but she states that she also drank it so there’s no reason it would be her. With the situation quickly spiraling out of control, Emmanuelle locks her young son Tito in an electrical room to segregate him away from agitated dancers. Some members in the group then allege that Omar, one of the dancers, of spiking the drink because he hadn’t drunk anything. Soon, they throw Omar out in the cold.
Selva, the lead dancer, notices her friend Lou is withdrawn. After an argument with one of the dancers, David, who intends to sleep with all the women in the group, Selva follows Lou to her room where Lou confesses she hasn’t drunk the sangria as she fears she is pregnant. One of the dancers, Dom, enters and heavily affected by the spiked drink, accuses Lou of spiking the drink. She kicks Lou several times in the stomach and leaves, On her way out she comes across dancers Alaya and Jennifer fighting over Jennifer’s cocaine and her refusal to share it. Ultimately the fight leads to a terrible situation in which Jennifer’s hair is set on fire.