France | Belgium/USA 2018
Opening December 6, 2018
Directed by: Gaspar Noé
Writing credits: Gaspar Noé
Principal actors: Sofia Boutella, Kiddy Smile
A young woman, scantily dressed, stumbles through the snow and collapses in an isolated field. The film credits roll. Was that it? The film is finished after only five minutes? Naturally, this is just a window to suggest what awaits us, as the film flashes back to the beginning. Now we see 21 beautiful dancers in an abandoned French school building. They have gathered to practice their steps and become better acquainted. The next day they will begin a much-awaited tour through France and then fly to the USA for more performances. Their choreographer Emmanuelle (Claude Gajan Maull) had already selected this talented group from videos in which they displayed their talents and competed for the job. The mood is pleasant, as Selva, David, Lou, Gazelle, Taylor, Lea, Rocket, Riley, Omar, etc., make small talk. But then it gradually shoots dangerously out of hand. Someone has put drugs into their punch bowl and they are out of control. Who did it?
A first impression might be “Where is this going?” since Climax sticks to one site (which would also make it adaptable for the theater). Be patient; this is an opportunity to learn about each dancer individually and ponder themes: dance styles, mutual attractions, desperation, or responsibility (bringing a young child along?). The film plays in 1996, so no mobile phones, no internet in case of emergencies. The 19 songs originate from the 1970s to the 1990s including “Born to be Alive,” “Tainted Love,” and “Pump up the Volume.” Dance styles are breakdance, voguing, krumping, clowing, waacking, and electro dance which you will probably recognize, even if you didn’t know the names. Director Noé was delighted with the chance to work with these talented dancers and gave them much freedom for improvisation. Climax won the main prize in the Quainzaine-des-Réalisateurs section of the 2018 Cannes Film Festival. Although it might seem similar at first glance, this is not to be confused with the film Suspiria, also about dancing and “horror,” which opened three weeks before Climax. (Becky T.)