Gaspar Noe’s Climax is a truly beguiling and increasingly unsettling cinematic delight.
It also perfectly combines the French director’s visual flair and desire to shock and surprise with refreshingly unfettered and unhinged performances from an array of dancers, most of whom had never acted before.
They’re led by Sofia Boutella, who stars as Selva, the choreographer of a French dance troupe that has been rehearsing for three days straight in a secluded abandoned school. Their wrap party soon turns into a nightmare when it emerges that the sangria they are all drinking has been spiked with LSD.
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Sofia Boutella talks Gaspar Noé and Climax
Boutella tells Metro that Noe originally approached her about the film over Instagram, having been impressed by her work as a dancer. However, rather than having a detailed plan for what would unfold, Boutella quickly realized just how collaborative Climax was going to be.
“He told me he wanted to do a movie about dancers and see what happened once they had been spiked with LSD. I said, ‘What happens?’ He said, ‘I don’t know.’ He didn’t have a script. That was very interesting for me. I had never worked that way. He just had character descriptions, not scene descriptions.”
“He just had written down that he wanted a choreographer, a pregnant girl, a girl that spiked us, and all the other descriptions. I knew I was going to start the movie sober and then end up in this nightmarish situation.”
Far from being put off by this approach, Boutella jumped at the opportunity. Especially because of how important dance is to her.
“Dancing is such an important and meaningful way of expression for me. I have done it since I was 4 years old. I always act when I dance. Because I need a story and an emotion and a character in order to execute the movement. As an actress I use body language a lot, and dancing has been so helpful in that.”
It also helped that Boutella saw a kindred spirit in Noe.
“He is a true artist that defies the norms. He is not afraid of pushing the bar and doing something that is new and hasn’t been done yet. He takes risks and he really tries to convey something that he really believes in.”
Noe provided Boutella and the cast with complete freedom to “explore this loss of control” that comes with taking so much LSD in order to create a truly original and hypnotic blend of horror, color, dance and music.
“Everyday we turned up to set we rehearsed these 8-10 minute scenes for about 5 hours. Then we’d break for lunch and then do between 14-17 takes. We did that for 15 days. It was definitely challenging. But so rewarding. I got to explore something that I have never explored before. I got to see how deep I could plunge into myself and find these colors.”
“I have never done acid. Or LSD. But I did a lot of research to get there. I researched this terrible drug called Flakka, which turns people into complete monsters, zombies and makes them so aggressive. That was the psychological nightmare where I wanted to go with the character.”
Climax is now in cinemas.