Something’s kicking in the new Gaspar Noé nightmare.
What fresh hell is this? Gaspar Noé continues his provocateur shinanigans with his latest descent into madness. Climax traps a group of dancers inside an abandoned school building for a night of pleasure and pain. Following such films as Irreversible, Enter the Void, and Love, this is guaranteed to give you another uncomfortable but utterly compelling trip through the base instincts of humanity. Noé does not make easy films, and most people run screaming from them, but for those curious minds in the audience, there is no other filmmaker who can quite satiate like him.
Let’s take a peek.
Noé appears to be teaching a lesson I learned long ago: do not drink from the punch bowl. Guys, BYOB. The mysterious red pool of candy water can only do more harm than good. I’ve learned from experience, but maybe if I had encountered Climax in my youth, I would have been saved from my own personal forays into the boozy abyss.
Of course, I never woke up screaming in blood and snow. Noé is not the kind of filmmaker to hold back on his tutelage, and the class he’s teaching here will drag its participants as deep down into the muck as it possibly can. Pressing play on any one of his films should stir a quiver in your gut, and I often find Noe’s work most palatable through clasped fingers over my eyes.
There is no denying the pulse of the trailer, and as was the case with previous endeavors, Climax looks to have plenty of life and blood coursing through its veins. Noé has populated the film with a gang of professional dancers, with Sofia Boutella springing to the forefront. After the troupe slays a performance, they gather behind locked doors to partake in a debauched celebration. Blood and flames are the results.
Climax played earlier this year at the Cannes Film Festival. The response was mostly positive, with the film taking home the prestigious Art Cinema Award. When speaking to The Hollywood Reporter after Climax’s initial screening, Noé expressed his desire to slowly penetrate the darker aspects of his story:
“Compared to my other films, which were problematic starting with the very first scene, this one has a happy aspect to it… the first half of ‘Climax’ is really about the joy of living. But the second half is about the nightmare of living.”
We know not to trust any bliss from Gaspar Noé. For him, joy is just an excuse to revel in the opposite expression. The director is often branded a nihilist, but lately, he has pushed against such labels. He sees himself as a humanitarian, a product of the world he was born into. Don’t worry about what came before or after; the full experience is right here on planet Earth:
“I’m an atheist, and I don’t believe in the afterlife, but I do believe that paradise and hell exist. They’re right here, right now, and I wanted to portray the best and worst of the human experience.”
Noé is an artist who delivers on a complete exploit. A film is not just one emotion, it’s all of them. The consequence is often exhilarating as well as nauseating. You do not get to walk away from his films on firm ground. Climax will certainly send you stumbling out the theater, wobbling towards the firm brace of a loved one.
In A24 we trust. From horror (Hereditary) to the coming-of-age drama (Lady Bird), their stamp is usually proof of not only quality but cultural relevance. They have not nailed down a release date just yet, but we’re ready to mark our calendars the moment they do.