And, in a surprising and uncommonly sustained way, Midsommar” is a psychedelic film. The rituals Dani and her friends encounter in that Swedish village… well, they involve a lot of unspecified mind-altering substances, the effects of which are seen on screen for long stretches at a time in a way that’s obvious but never overwhelming.
“I had no references for the drug trips,” Aster said. “I mean, in the script I described the trees as ‘breathing’ and the flowers as ‘swelling and deflating and undulating,’ and there wasn’t really anything to look at for that. I was more clear about what I wanted to avoid — I wanted to avoid that kind of 1960 psychedelia, like the very darted sequence in ‘Midnight Cowboy.’ The film itself is endlessly brilliant and the most modern thing ever, but that party section… it’s very ‘Easy Rider.’”
“Gaspar Noé is someone who does it very well in a contemporary sense,” Aster said, alluding to the sustained freakout that stretches across the second half of “Climax” (and/or to pretty much anything else Noé has ever made). “He’s just miraculously good at sustaining oppressive moods that feel like you’re on a bad trip, and the most important thing to us was to be able to sustain that vibe, because the symptoms persist for a long time in our movie and we didn’t want them to become obnoxious. I wanted you to be able to look at the characters if you wanted to and not be distracted by what’s happening around them, but if your eyes do stray to the periphery you’ll see that everything is warping like crazy.”
Argentinian filmmaker and Cannes regular Gaspar Noé has never been known for his on-screen restraint — and a brand-new poster for his latest film happily nods at the kind of divisive reactions his film has stirred up in the past — and his latest Cannes debut, a dizzying, psychedelic dance film entitled “Climax” appears to be continuing right down his unique path.
The film, formerly known as “Psyché,” is the director’s first since “Love,” and is about a group of dancers in the 1990s who descend into madness after being drugged. The film’s first teaser trailer appears to suss out the source of said drugging — either it’s the sangria or the drapes, and we’re gunning for the sangria — and gives just a taste of the total madness to come.
Noe’s latest premiered just this morning in Cannes’ Directors’ Fortnight section. It is the filmmaker’s fourth film to screen at the festival, following his brutal 2002 rape drama “Irréversible,” the psychedelic 2009 crime film “Enter the Void,” and 2015’s 3D erotic art film “Love.”