Climax review – delightfully deranged hellscape gives way to tedium
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Verdict: Gaspar Noé’s danse macabre is exhilarating, horrifying, and finally a bit of an anti-climax. Climax begins with an overhead shot of a bloodied woman stumbling across a frozen expanse, eventually collapsing and writhing around so as to make a grotesque red snow angel. It ends with a title card reading DEATH IS AN EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCE, the huge letters projected upside down. Subtle it ain’t – though if you wanted subtle you probably shouldn’t be watching a Gaspar Noé film. This is, after all, the writer-director who came to international notoriety with Irreversible (2002), the rape-revenge ordeal that had 250 people fleeing from its Cannes premiere, and whose last film Love (2015) featured a man ejaculating directly into the camera. In 3-D. Back and looking to upset everyone once again, Noé has crafted a delightfully delirious portrait of a ’90s dance troupe and their drug-fuelled descent into collective madness. But Climax climaxes too soon, it’s piled-on provocations eventually giving way to tedium. A lengthy prologue introduces the dancers though interviews played on a TV; the screen is flanked by books and VHS tapes that hint at the film’s inspirations, and indelicately show off Noé’s taste. Then we cut to a deserted school hall, where a remix of Cerrone's disco classic ‘Supernature’ soundtracks an intoxicating five-minute dance routine captured in a whirling single take. The records keep spinning and the camera keeps rolling as its snakes its way around the players, whose gossipy conversations mostly consist of who among the group they like, dislike and want to fuck. Among them are DJ Daddy (French musician Kiddy Smile), sex-pest David (Romain Guillermic), siblings Gazelle (Giselle Palmer) and Taylor (Taylor Kastle), and Selva (Sofia Boutella), the group’s leader and closest thing the film has to a protagonist. There’s also choreographer Emmanuelle (Claude Gajan Maull), who has made the spectacularly awful decision of bringing her adorable son Tito with her.
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