Directed by Gaspar Noé, Climax follows a troupe of dancers as they celebrate the end of rehearsals with a seemingly simple party, although things quickly go off the rails after it becomes clear that somebody has spiked the punch with LSD. It’s a fairly straight-forward premise that’s employed to typically off-the-wall and avant-garde effect by Noé, as the movie contains a seriously unconventional structure and is predominantly concerned with the various characters’ somewhat uneventful exploits – with the midsection boasting, for example, a series of static shots wherein the dancers gossip and make small talk. Noé, along with cinematographer Benoît Debie, does manage to infuse large chunks of Climax with typically spellbinding instances of visual flair, at least, and there’s certainly no denying the picture’s effectiveness on a purely aesthetic, visceral level. And while certain stretches are undeniably quite engrossing – the degree to which the party initially goes off the rails is almost hypnotic in its impact and effectiveness – Climax builds to a final half hour that’s been suffused with relentlessly over-the-top and progressively intolerable attributes that ensure the movie ends on a seriously anticlimactic note (eg there’s just so much incoherent writhing within this portion of the proceedings). It’s too bad, really, given the potential afforded by the picture’s first half, as Noé’s too-much-of-a-good-thing modus operandi, in the final analysis, ultimately cancels out Climax‘s myriad of positive elements.

** out of ****

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