French auteur Gaspar Noé excited audiences with his first two films, the excellent CARNE and the sequel SEUL CONTRE TOUS which were both an hour or so long. But Noé pushed the limits with ENTER THE VOID and IRREVERSIBLE and he continues to do so with his new film CLIMAX about a troupe of dancers on acid.
What can one do with a troupe of real dancers? Noé proves that more than everything can be done. His film can be divided into 5 parts – the interviews; the group dance; the mingling of the dancers; the individual dances; the sex that occurs after the acid takes effect and the climax (aftermath). Even if all else fails, the dance choreography is so good, many done with one long take, that watching these dance segments is worth more than the ticket price. I myself, would watch the film again just for the dance sequences.
The film begins with the dancers being interviewed by an unseen male and female interviewer. This sequence takes about 15 minutes and the audience sees the obsession of the dancers. “Dance is everything.” “I will commit suicide if I cannot dance.” “I would do anything to be able to dance in the troupe.” To the last comment, Noé pursues the implications further, bringing light to the current sexual abuse in the entertainment industry, but with an intelligent difference. The two dancers who make the identical last comment are probed further to the point that their sexual offers might be accepted. Noé uses the males instead of the females to be accosted and the possible guilty party to be one male and one female.
The troupe’s dance number is nothing short of stunning. Forget the dances in any other television show or dance movie. This is the real thing – real dance from the streets, expertly choreographed by gifted dancers.
When the dancers start mingling, the audience discovers more about each individual, their sexual orientation, who each has the hots for and how one might be related to another. This is the time the dancers take to the spiked sangria. The LSD (acid) takes about a hour to take effect.
The film breaks out into dance again. This time it is individual dance where each dancer is given the chance to perform solo. Noé uses the overhead shot. The camera displaced above and each dancer moves in a and then out of the spot, with the dance performance seen from a bird’s eye view. It is uncommon to shoot dance numbers this way, but it is nevertheless inventive and effective.
The last two segments are not so easy to watch. Once the dancers start to feel the effect of the drug, their emotions come loose and sex begins leading to the films climax which unfortunately is not so entertaining as the dance sequences. Noé’s camera goes upside down with lighting going on and off so that not every scene can be deciphered clearly.
Noé never fails to shock and to push his filming limits. CLIMAX shows Noé at one of his most effective, disturbing though not disgusting.