Climax is the first ever Gasper Noe film I ever watched and not only was it the first Noe film I ever watched I actually watched it with the director in the same theatre. Obviously, I knew who he was and his reputation for controversy and diverse reactions to his films so I was excited to be in the same room as him. Not only did I see the guy, I briefly spoke to him and the spluttered out that was the first film I’ve seen of his. I think his misheard because he said ‘thank you’ (thinking I said ‘best’) and then again when I called his film ‘interesting’ (which is basically a euphemism for ‘I don’t know what to think’).
That said, people are claiming that Climax is Gasper Noe’s most accessible of works, and yet despite that audiences are finding themselves loathing it or loving it. Climax is certainly a work of a director who knows exactly what he wants and knows exactly how to go about achieving that. The film starts with the most extraordinary of improvised and choreographed dance numbers which is stunningly filmed in a single shot. All done in one long take the film continues to match such quality filmmaking with an equally impressive sequence with the camera takes in all the party attendees in one, flowing, seamless shot.
After that, and perhaps what frustrates people the most, is an oddly shot series of short scenes of all the characters talking to a friend, brother or sister. Conversations range from the mundane to the obscene, and this goes on for far too long to the extent it becomes tedious. However, after another staggeringly shot dance scene (that has made people feel nauseous with its vertigo inducing effect) the effects of the LSD kicks in the film’s intensity never lets up.
The sheer power of the film’s intensity is what makes it as horrifying as any other film screened at Frightfest (where the film got its UK premiere) with the characters turning on themselves and each other. For close to an hour the film’s relentless intensity is draining yet it’s impossible to look away even when the film becomes (intentionally) impossible to follow. Perhaps the near total black scenes mimic the catastrophic blackouts that may occur taking such a large amount of drugs.
Noe obviously reveals in outrage and controversy, he perhaps enjoys walkouts as much as people who loving his work. His seriousness and dedication to the craft, and the fact he probably enjoys provoking people, is perhaps why the “pre-credits” appear 20 minutes into the movie and final credits scroll first. Why? Dunno but Climax’s is a film made by one of the industries’ most talented of filmmakers.