Climax Drama

TIFF Review: ‘Climax’

September 16, 2018Ferdosa Abdi

An example of all the best and worst qualities of writer/director Gaspar Noé, Climax is based on real events about a dance troupe in 1996, where a post-rehearsal party goes awry after the communal bowl of sangria is spiked with LSD.

The first two acts of the film are spectacular. Noé does a great job establishing the characters and their relationships, setting up the anticipation of the eventual mayhem, foreshadowing some of the eventual interactions these characters will have after the LSD kicks in, and crafting one of the best dance movies in recent years. However, the provocative filmmaker cannot help himself. Instead of letting us enjoy ourselves in this frenzied dance party, he throws us into a sickening horror show filled with shocking imagery. It is as though he cannot help himself; he cannot craft a film without injecting a pessimistic view of the world.

Through the story, Noé is telling us that when we are free from our inhibitions we will be reduced to animal-like behavior. But while a group of young, attractive people drinking LSD-laced sangria is a recipe for disaster, Noé pushes the insanity not just to the very edge, but right off the cliff. If you can stomach some of the depravity shown on screen and are at all in the mood for a darkly funny, horror dance movie then this may interest you. Climax is well-made, well-acted, and absolutely insane.

Climax makes its North American premiere at the 2018 Toronto International Film Festival. Its runtime is 1 hr. 36 min.

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