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Climax

Gaspar Noé

Long considered one of the most provocative filmmakers working today, French director Gaspar Noé returns to our screens with Climax, a film which will shock some and thrill others. Shot in only 15 days with a cast of mostly unknown young French dancers, this is a horror/musical/dance-a-thon like no other. When it screened earlier this year at Cannes it had many walk-outs but it also stepped away with the top prize in the Director’s Fortnight strand.

“…a film which will shock some and thrill others.”

Set in 1996, the film opens as a group of dancers gather to rehearse a new show. From all walks of life, this motley crew have bonded as an ‘équipe’ despite some infighting and clashing personalities. At their wrap party, after someone spikes a punchbowl with LSD, it isn’t long before the dancing, and other activities, get wild. As each dancer's psyche begins to disintegrate, a creeping paranoia gives rise to deep-seated prejudices within the group that eventually explode into outright pandemonium against an infectious and hypnotic parade of period-appropriate needle-drops from the likes of Cerrone, M/A/R/R/S and Aphex Twin.

The magnetic cast of dancers, selected from Parisian nightclubs and YouTube voguing videos, bring a fascinating blend of styles and choreography into the mix. The opening extended dance sequence is one of the most hypnotic cinema moments of the year. But this is no ordinary dance film: drawing on some of his favourite films (glimpsed in a pile of VHS tapes in the opening sequence) like Dawn of the Dead, Suspiria, Possession and Salò, or The 120 Days of Sodom, Noé has created something only he could – a pulsating frenzy of movement and madness.