Review: Climax

Blu-ray: Climax (2018)

Much like Marmite, Kale, and anything with Simon Cowell in it, the films of Gaspar Noé are an acquired taste that, love them or loathe them, linger in the mind long after the credits have rolled. Climax once again will split viewers as to whether this is a visionary look at the human condition, or just a load of pretentious claptrap.

A group of french dancers rehearse in an empty school building and decide to unwind by having a party. Unknown to them, the sangria that they are all drinking from is laced with drugs, and so begins a slow descent into madness as neurosis overcomes them all, while relationships and friendships are pushed to their limits…all accompanied by a pumping soundtrack and lots of dancing.

A ‘tame’ film compared to what Noé has previously made, sex and violence are put on the back burner in favour of heightened emotions, and a visual finale where the camerawork mimics the state of mind of everyone on the mind altering drugs. Those who suffer from motion sickness and feel queasy playing games in VR may well have a bucket close at hand as the camera spins upside down while twisting and zooming in close on the sweaty throng that is struggling to survive both the exhaustive dancing and the even more exhaustive workout on their emotions.

Low on a cohesive narrative, yet high on visual and aural stimuli, Climax assaults your senses until you, much like the characters on screen, just want it all to end and a sense of normality to come back to you.

The soundtrack reflects its mid 1990’s setting, and I’m always happy to hear Supernature play, but the high energy music, and even higher energy dancing that accompanies it, makes you feel that maybe you should have had a couple of energy drinks beforehand to get you through it all.

Climax is probably Noé’s most accessible film so far, yet still possess that ‘marmite effect’ which will proffer wildly different reviews. I for one found it difficult to endure until the end and was most definitely relieved when it ended. Irreversible is still my favourite film by him, and that’s one that leaves you feeling like you need a shower after watching it.

A great set of special features flesh out more of what Noé was looking to achieve, as well as some very interesting stories from on the set.

Not for everyone, but worth giving a try especially if you are already a Noé fan.

SPECIAL EDITION CONTENTS

  • High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation
  • 5.1 DTS-HD MA Audio
  • Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
  • Audio commentary with writer-director Gaspar Noé
  • An Antidote to the Void – a brand new interview with Gaspar Noé
  • Performing Climax – newly-produced featurette comprising interviews with actors Kiddy Smile, Romain Guillermic and Souhelia Yacoub
  • Disco Infernal: The Sounds of Climax – Alan Jones, author of Saturday Night Forever: The Story of Disco and Discomania, offers up a track-by-track appreciation of the Climax soundtrack
  • Shaman of the Screen: The Films of Gaspar Noé – a brand new video essay by writer Alexandra Heller-Nicholas looking as Gaspar Noé’s evolution as a filmmaker
  • Trailer
  • Reversible sleeve featuring two artwork options

FIRST PRESSING ONLY: Collector’s booklet featuring new writing on the film by Anton Bitel alongside the original press kit

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Review by Dave (host of 60 Minutes With) from a disc kindly supplied by Arrow Films via Fetch Publicity.