Climax ★★

This is the purest form of the "bodies in space" film the Vulgar Auterists kept gesturing towards, I think, and we deserve what we get I suppose.

The dancers are indeed physically impressive, showcasing a dizzying fluidity of movement in the opening number that carries over into the rest of the film as Noe's ever-gliding, ever-pinwheeling camera translates that fluidity into escalating drama. And Noe remains skilled at finding fascinating ways to frame his images. For one, the extended God's-eye-shot of the communal circle dance is ecstatic and disorienting - it has the effect of flattening out the three-dimensional space, so that all the leaps and spins feel alienated and physically wrong, like a wonky Flash game with a busted sense of physics. Too, the final sequence is as horrific and intense as any he's filmed, an inverted crimson Boschian nightmare of shrieks and tangled limbs emerging from places they don't look like they should belong. The relentless sound design is another plus - imagine the family-dinner sequence from The Texas Chain Saw Massacre at an hour's length with sinister, pulsing dance music fading in and out over it and you're about there.

Yet, for all the technical bravado, I could not wait for this fucking thing to be over, because the bag of tricks Noe has here is the same damn bag of tricks he trots out every time and familiarity is not helping this particular stylistic fetish. The shock of the new has worn off, so we're left with the substance of the thing, which is to say we're left with nothing at all - this has all the depth of a fountain at the mall, shiny coins submerged in an endlessly-recycled puddle. Who could possibly give a fuck about any of these ciphers, these petty assholes with their endless conversations about dancing and fucking and drugs and children and hatred, these empty vessels with energy to burn and not a whit of personality to match between any of them? Indeed, how could they have any personality when they're all introduced one after another rapid-fire like contestants in a reality show and there's a couple dozen of them crammed into one building and 90 minutes of celluloid and the director doesn't give a shit about them anyway except as wind-up toys he can send crashing around his Moonage Freak-Out Diorama? Despite its pompous title cards, sloganeering about birth and life and death, the closest thing I can glean to a point here is [SPOILERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR] "You just can't trust a German." Which... okay? Maybe that means something in regards to its multicultural cast, or maybe I'm just putting way more thought into something that's at heart yet another gewgawed art-prank stink bomb from world cinema's premier college sophomore.

TL;DR: I love Irreversible with all my rotten heart and at this point I don't care if I ever see another film by this dude.

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