‘Gaspar Noé made a satanic Step Up’
The last time Gaspar Noé was at the Cannes Film Festival, he was premiering his NSFW vision of romance, (2015’s Love) to the world. Now, he’s returned with Climax, a similarly primal, intimate, intense film that stars Sofia Boutella alongside a troupe of dancers after they’re plunged into madness whilst on a bad LSD trip. Oh, did you think Noé would play it safe this time around?
This year, Cannes delivered not one, but two buzzy films that reportedly offered a very visceral viewing experience to festival goers. Lars Von Trier’s The House That Jack Built (his first film at Cannes since 2011, when he was given a 7-year ban for insensitive remarks during a press conference) was, by all accounts, a brutal watch. Sparking dozens of walk-outs and boasting some of the cruelest and sadistic imagery of any film in recent memory, von Trier’s film has already been deemed a literal enfant terrible before its wide release.
But Noé’s Climax deserves our attention because it’s sparked similarly strong feelings, but with much more positive gusto. The film scooped up the Art Cinema Award at the end of Cannes this year and already getting U.S. distribution with A24, which means it isn’t going away anytime soon. Noé has been a regular provocateur with his films and Climax seems to be no different, with the filming timeline alone serving as something to marvel at. An interview with Vice (who also co-produced the film) reveals that Noé completed filming in 15 days. He apparently got the idea for Climax in December 2017 and by the end of February 2018, it was ready for its Cannes debut.
The film’s premise — a dance troupe gets together for rehearsal, accidentally drinks spiked sangria, and they each have very different trips with different outcomes — saw Noé bring together non-professional dancers, all skilled in various forms of dance, like voguing or krumping. One glance at the film’s cast shows that most of the actors are newbies to film, too, with Boutella being one of the most recognizable names. And while it’s considered a more tame film from Noé, it does still reportedly begin with a death scene before putting viewers on an action-packed rollercoaster, moving from carefree dance sequences to deeply troubling interactions.
And speaking of interactions, Noé revealed how he was able to keep the cast’s energy up in order to maintain the kinetic, frenetic energy that surges through the film (and will no doubt surge through viewers as they watch).
“I made the mistake, I think on the second day of shooting, of giving them alcohol to wake them up because they were starting to get tired,” Noé reveals, later saying that, “We started giving them only coffee and eventually playing some pieces of music that excited them. In the end, the best way to wake them up was to ask Kiddy Smile [who plays “Daddy” in the film] to take the decks for 20 minutes and to make them dance like crazy. After that we were able to shoot for two more hours, then had another break with music that wasn’t related to the film.”
Critics at Cannes provided colourful takes on the film that only makes us want to see the film even more. Vulture’s Kyle Buchanan called the film a “satanic Step Up" and his colleague Emily Yoshida branded it one of the best things Noé has ever done in her film review. Meanwhile, The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw teased his review with, “[W]e needed Withnail to saunter on and say: ’Balls, I’ll take it and run a mile.’” And then there’s Indiewire’s Eric Kohn, whose review is maybe the best of the bunch: “If every morning at #Cannes started with Gaspar Noe’s CLIMAX, nobody would need caffeine. (Just Advil.).”
There’s no word yet on release dates outside of France, where it’s scheduled for September 2018. But, one look at the trailer has us convinced we’ll need to set aside time to see Climax when it finally does come out in a theatre near us.
Watch the trailer for Climax below
CLIMAX: Gaspar Noe made a satanic STEP UP and it's... the best movie of Cannes so far??? The dance sequences are electric, the composition is incredible, and you keep waiting to see if Noe will fuck it up... and he never does. I would watch this again right fuckin' away— Kyle Buchanan (@kylebuchanan) May 13, 2018