What’s it about? A troupe of dancers finish rehearsal in an isolated hall, and descend into both agony and ecstasy when someone spikes their after-party sangria with LSD
The Best Bit:
The first post-credit scene is an audacious six minute dance routine. All the troupe’s bonds, tensions and desires are contained within it. The dancers are incredible: they vogue, krump, thrust, writhe and strut at incredible speed. Their limbs often seem like separate entities, angular serpents that twist and twirl around spasmodic torsos. Different social groups - boys and girls, blacks and whites, gays and straights - synchronise and unite, facing off against their opposites in a way that hints at the aggressions the drugs will later unleash. In this opening number, though, the collective energy drives their bodies to adopt and reject each grouping. Individuals align with partners, they fall into rhythm, other join in - then the group shatters apart, becoming a jump-up rave, before everyone reforms in a different social structure. Macho posturing is met with pulsating erotic energy, aggressive krump-battle moves countered by queer euphoria. Tensions between individuals are celebrated and transcended in the velocity of the dance.
Noé’s camera puts us right in the exhilarating middle of this: swiveling and swooping through the contorting dancers. It’s similar to the fight scenes from Gareth Evan’s The Raid, where the shot follows the path of a punch, our eye becoming the fist. In Climax this technique makes for an intoxicating, kinetic immersion which - when used later in the film to follow the character’s madness - is deeply upsetting. If this scene is all about connection, about uniting and synchronising, then the inner infernos that later engulf the characters are the nadir of isolation. Trapped in their own hallucinations, they stagger from room to room clinging to (or attacking) each other in desperate, frenzied loneliness.
I’ve always felt Noé to be a far more optimistic director than many give him credit for. He films the most horrific and depraved acts, but with an invigorating volcanic energy. He also tempers the violence and bad sex with moments of purity and hope. Here, we begin with what looks like future of mankind: near superhuman beings that form kinetic relationships across racial, sexual and gender divides. Even when we later see these energies turn animalistic and destructive, that sense of hope from the opening scene lingers on.
Watch the sequence here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9n-6A6bPBA0
Those who liked it said… "Noé has somehow mulched up the quintessence of dance, cocaine and porn together and squooshed into his camera." - Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
Those who didn’t like it said… "Like watching "Fame" directed by the Marquis de Sade with a Steadicam." - Owen Gleiberman, Variety
If you like it, check out… Suspiria (both 1977 and 2018 versions), Black Swan (Aranofsky, 2010), Magnolia (Anderson, 1999)