“Somethings kicking in”Review by Lewis Goodall
So I just watched climax and……. and………..
Climax is er….
Well the things about climax is that the director tried to um……….
Nope I cant do it, I cannot describe climax, well I can but my brain is mush at this point but I’ll try my best
So Climax (Directed by Gasper Noè) is a French film about a dance group who are rehearsing in a remote school on a winter’s night. What starts out as an innocent party to celebrate the successful rehearsal turns into a drug fuelled nightmare when the group discovers that someone has spiked the Sangria.
I currently have the feeling that someone has taken off the top of my skull, viciously taken a whisk to my brain and screwed the scalp back on. Climax is hard to put into words with how rapidly this film plummets into the depths of madness. Its plummets fast and it plummets hard, but I do not mean in a bad way. This film is in no way, shape or form a bad film, a lot of people would definitely disagree with me but this film is exceptional and impressive.
So straight away I will put up a warning of this film is definitely not for everyone. Deeeeefinitely not for everyone, it’s what people would call an ‘artsy’ film which doesn’t stick with a lot of people so its definite marmite, you’ll either love it or you hate it, and I’m a fan of marmite.
The start of the film goes all Christopher Nolan and starts with the end, but goes that step further and shows the credits as well. We’re greeted with a birds eye view of snow, a crawling lady, crying and covered in blood appears from the top and slides her way down the screen, then end credits. I had to check to make sure that the bluray hadn’t had just randomly skipped to the end. Then we’re greeted with audition tapes from all the cast of the dance troupe, answering questions about their love of dance and also past experiences of after parties. It was a great way to introduce all the players from the film to get a small glimpse into their personalities at get know them all. After the tapes is when the real magic happens and the reason I find this film impressive. From here it shows the team rehearsing their dance and you get to see them all boogying and strutting their stuff, there are so many of them all they’re all over the place it was like looking through a kaleidoscope. But what gets me is that this whole section, continuing for around 30 minutes is all one take….. one take!!! This sort of directing is just always super impressive and gets my up vote. The fluidity of the camera movements to capture all the dancing but also tell the story of each character, at one point or another tracking them individually to capture a brief insight into the way this character moves and plays a role in this film was incredibly done. They’re dancing is really good too I must add, you’ve got a variety of dancing ranging from body poppers to people slut dropping, it’s a mixed bag. Sofia Boutella who plays one of the leading girls in this definitely deserves an oscar for those hips. DAMN!!!
As I mentioned the 30 minute ongoing shot is brilliance with editing and the editing is also done well with the scene after the rehearsal. Once everyone has finished and got a drink it takes it in turns to focus on groups of people having their own conversations, cutting from pair to pair. The cuts are jarring in this sections as they cut to black for a second and then they’ll be on the next group, sometimes it would cut to black and then be on the same group again. Either this is my TV on the fritz or this jarring editing was used as a visual way to convey the jarring effects of the LSD starting to set in on the characters. At first I wasn’t too keen as it was just all over the place but the unsettling feeling I had from it felt intentional, like i was supposed to feel this way and it was this point the film started to hit me. This feeling continued with me as dancing kicked up again. The camera movements throughout the film started to distort as the dancers are celebrating in a circle, each taking their time to smash some major grooves on the floor, gradually building and building until halfway through where I was hit with the opening credits. 45 minutes into this film and the opening credits roll by, introducing the actors and producers and director. Again I had to check I was on the right part of the movie but this was intentional. Reflecting back I see why the opening credits started there, because everything that happened beyond this point was where the real crazy stuff started to happen, and when I say crazy I mean crazy!
This whole film does an incredible job of descending the madness at such a pace that keeps you going along with what’s happening until you really take a step back and just wonder what life choices you made to end up watching this film (please believe me when this is me saying this all in a good way).
The music is a great component to help with this storytelling, starting with upbeat dance anthems, lowering itself further and further into a trance like rhythm to keep you at the same level of how the people in that room felt.
This film is mainly dancing so it’s hard to critique on the acting side of things but Sophia Boutella gives a particularly exceptional performance. All the actors do their part really well but there is one scene in particular that shows the effect the LSD it taking on her and her emotions are bouncing around like a ball In a pinball machine during an earthquake. The rapid change of expression propels the scene to new heights to really display the effects that are happening on these people and how distressing the whole situation is, not only from what we’re witnessing but also inside their heads as the drug takes over. At no point during this film do you see what the people are hallucinating, it is all conveyed through action and for that it gets a gold star. I never intend to take LSD anyway but this film has really made want to steer clear of sangria just in case.
But overall this film just oozes anxiety from the people within the film but also translates to the viewer. The enclosed space it all takes place in as well just solidifies the feeling of being trapped in this nightmarish void and it is an incredible experience and one that will stick with me.
Even though I loved this film it is certainly not a perfect film, theres nothing directly in particular that I didn’t like about the film, directing is fantastic, music fantastic, acting fantastic, camera work is out of this world yet I have this conflicting feeling that’s stopping me from giving it a perfect score. It’s certainly not a film I would casually recommend to just anyone, this film is distorted, it’s jarring, it’s down right disturbing at points. This isn’t a film you would put on on a quiet Sunday afternoon to watch with your grandparents who are down for the weekend. But if you’re looking for something to mess with your head and to make you feel as though you are really tripping on LSD then this is your film (I have no experience of what LSD feels like but I imagine this film is very close).
I suppose my only sort of down note I would say is the ending, now I’ve praised the camera work but when you find out who actually spiked the sangria the camera is upside down so I had to do a head stand to see who it was. Also in regards to the audition tapes I mentioned earlier, I enjoyed them but some of the dialogue there seemed out of place, in the sense that they are randomly talking about explicit thing like sexual preference or drugs. Not like I find those topics distressing or anything its just given the context that they are audition tapes it just didn’t really fit. One last qualm i had with it is a decision one of the characters made didn’t really fit with the situation. They’re only small opinions of mine, it’s very much me nitpicking but it doesn’t distract a lot from the rest of the film and its technical brilliance.
I am not going to say any spoilers for this film either because I feel reading it will take away from the experience of what the film has to offer but I will say how I reacted. At points I gasped out loud and actually covered my mouth with what happened. I found myself not breathing because I forgot how, and I’m pretty sure I blinked a maximum of 4 times for the whole duration of this film.
My final way to describe this film would be.
It’s like you’re on a ghost train going though a crack den