By Robin Pomeroy
Gaspar Noe seems almost disappointed by the largely enthusiastic response to the film he premiered in Cannes this week.
The Argentine director takes pride in the provocateur status he earned with films such as "Irreversible", in which Monica Bellucci undergoes a 9-minute rape scene, the drug-addled "Enter the Void" and "Love", which features 3-D unsimulated sex.
Now he has brought "Climax" to the Cannes Film Festival, a film Peter Bradshaw, from Britain's Guardian newspaper, described as a "satanic dance-troupe freak-out of sex and despair". Noe's team told him to expect his toughest press reaction yet.
"My publicist announced me it was going to be much harder with this movie than with 'Love' or 'Enter the Void'," Noe told Reuters on the beach at Cannes.
"We had 75 percent bad press on 'Enter the Void' and 85 percent bad press on 'Love'. I (said I) hope we get 90-95 percent (on 'Climax'), but the wind turned the other way, most of the press is extremely good."
The movie's premise is simple. A troupe of young dancers are enjoying a post-rehearsal party which starts to get nasty when they realize someone has spiked the punch with LSD.
"It's a bad night out," Noe, 54, said. "It starts as something joyful ... something that was supposed to turn great turns awful.”
While there is violence and horror aplenty in "Climax", Noe's cast of top-notch dancers deliver stunning performances filmed by a swirling - sometimes upside down - camera that is mesmerizing and disconcerting.
Not all reviews have been great. Variety's Owen Gleiberman said it was "like watching 'Fame' directed by the Marquis de Sade with a Steadicam".
Rating the film A-, IndieWire critic Eric Cohn said: "Noe's remarkable psychedelic ride is his most focused achievement, a concise package of sizzling dance sequences and jolting developments that play like a slick mashup of the 'Step Up' franchise and 'Salo, or the 120 Days of Sodom'".
"I got used to having mostly bad reviews and I kind of enjoy it," said Noe. "I have to deal with the opposite."
"Climax" is in the Directors' Fortnight competition at the Cannes Film Festival, a side event to the main race for the Palme d'Or. The festival runs to May 19.
(Reporting by Robin Pomeroy; Editing by Alison Williams)