Forget nu-Suspiria; Climax is the film of 2018 that truly gives itself over to the dance. Director Gasper Noé dials back his trademark provocation to offer up a kinetic, propulsive ode to humans in motion. This is one of those true stories that isn’t, wrapped around the legend of a ‘90s French dance troupe celebration that went bad after the sangria was spiked with a crazy amount of LSD.
Climax’s plot is paper-thin – the cast are given cursory characterisation, but given they’re primarily dancers and not actors (with the exception of Sofia Boutella, who’s both), this isn’t a film interested in intricate interpersonal interactions – and largely an excuse to wrap extravagant dance sequences around a horrific core. There are flashes of purpose here, quite literally – Noé splashes the screen with confronting messages about birth, life and death – but this is a film about dance …and the dance floor.
The dance floor – especially when augmented by drink or drugs – is defined by an instinctive reality, where rational thought is subsumed by moments of elation and release, where each moment is splintered and distinct yet somehow continuous. As much as dance is cinematic, few films understand the dance floor like Climax does.