Monday, March 4, 2019


Gaspar Noe’s Climax is an example of a Dionysiac bacchanalia with the Pentheus myth thrown in for good luck. If The Living Theater gained its notoriety from Paradise Now, this is a kind of filmic Paradise Lost, minus the poetry. Known for classics of violence and eroticism like Irreversible (famous for its 9 minute rape scene), Enter the Void and Love (which provided an insider’s view of penetration), something went terribly wrong in Noe's current production, which features a troop of dancers who lose control when the punch at their after party is laced with LSD. Continuing the analogy with Greek theater, it’s at this point that the Furies take over with a pregnant dancer getting kicked and punched in the stomach and with the child of the company’s manager adding to the chorus of screaming as he piteously cries out from a locked electrical closet. Though there are several light moments including a Tarantino like exchange about the joys and pitfalls of analingus,  what follows is shrill even by the standards of say MedeaThe movie courts comparison to collective forms of drama not only in its themes of ecstasy and destruction, but also due to the fact that it lacks an iota of character development. Anarchy on film and the "derangement des sens” a la Rimbaud are naturally viable themes in any age, but Climax is as hermetic as it is disturbing. If you’re one of those people who has been flirting with taking low doses of LSD as a treatment for depression, you’re likely to have second thoughts after seeing Noe’s latest work.

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