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French Film Festival 2018 (Shaw)


Opening Date
09 Nov 2018
R21 Sexual Scenes and Drug Content
95 mins
French with English subtitles
Drama, Thriller
Gaspar Noé
Sofia Boutella, Romain Guillermic, Souheila Yacoub
French dancers gather in a remote, empty school building to rehearse on a wintry night. The all-night celebration morphs into a hallucinatory nightmare when they learn their sangria is laced with LSD.
By Say Peng  08 Nov 2018
‘Climax’ is an utterly entrancing and stylish plunge into a veritable hell on earth.
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The enfant terrible of contemporary French cinema, Gaspar Noe has a well-known reputation to shock and show viewers the most depraved manifestations of human nature. For example, in his 2002 film ‘Irreversible’, Noe staged a 10-minute long take of a woman being brutally raped. This time around, Noe aims to show the sunken depths of depravity human beings can sink to when they are out-of-their-minds high on hallucinogens.

‘Climax’ follows an ensemble cast of twenty contemporary dancers, all played by non-professional, real-life dancers with the exception of French-Algerian actress Sofia Boutella (‘Hotel Artemis’, ‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’). In Noe’s Altmanesque ensemble drama, Boutella plays Selva, the main protagonist if there is one as we follow her character for most of the time. Otherwise, there isn’t really a lead protagonist or much of a narrative. The film, as with all of Noe’s films, is an experience.

A bowl of sangria drunk by almost all the dancers has been spiked with LSD, sending them into convulsions, hysteria and paranoia. Over the course of the rest of the film, the effects of LSD consumes the dancers. They spiral out of their senses and out of control and their animal instincts take over. There are lots of writhing, vomiting, shouting, running, and violence. Amidst all that, a brother confesses his incestuous love for his sister and a Salem Witch hunt for the perpetrator behind the LSD spike unfolds, which results in a possible suicide.

‘Climax’ is Noe’s grand vision of hell and although it is utterly entrancing and riveting to watch, one wonders what point Noe is trying to make. ‘Climax’ is rich with sensations but, intellectually, the film rings hollow.
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