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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Climax': Gaspar Noé's Jaw-Dropping Account of a French Dance Troupe's Descent into Madness

Movie poster for Climax (2018)

Climax (2018) is a scorching cinematic experience about a French dance troupe that converges within an abandoned school to rehearse for an upcoming performance. Set in 1996, the storyline follows group manager Emmanuelle (Claude Gajan Maull) and choreographer Selva (Sofia Boutella) as they successfully orchestrate the performance's complex closing piece—with a spirited after-party commencing immediately afterward.

With musical accompaniment provided by DJ Daddy (Kiddy Smile), the party quickly kicks into high gear as the talented ensemble showcases their remarkable dance skills. Yet as the party progresses, the dancers grow increasingly bewildered and suspect that a communal sangria bowl has been spiked with LSD. Their fears turn to full-on terror and hallucinogenic madness, with the entire affair devolving into a deranged cauldron of accusation, violence, sex, and acute sensory overload.

Written and directed by French-Argentine filmmaker Gaspar Noé (Irréversible, Enter the Void), Climax is a blazing cinematic foray into the darker side of the human condition. Working with cinematographer Benoît Debie and production designer Jean Rabasse, the oft-controversial Noé has fashioned a hypnotic and often horrifying depiction of group hysteria. More notable for its visceral aesthetics than it is for narrative coherence, Noé's film works best as a uniquely transgressive chamber piece for the modern era.


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