HORROR; 1hr 35min (French with subtitles)

STARRING: Sofia Boutella

Glass darkly: Boutella

Even before LSD-spiked sangria rips their perceptions to shreds, the company of partying French dancers in filmmaker Gasper Noé’s mass breakdown are a volatile crew. Cutting kinetically between couples, Noé lets their posturing and snarking spell out what strutters they are. But holy hip-hop, can they bust a move! In the opening sequence, when everyone takes to the dance floor at the deserted boarding school where the party is being held, their limber frenzy fuses with the techno pulse of the music into one sinuous, seductive creature.


Never a man to kowtow to niceties, Irreversible’s Noé is in his seamy, pessimistic element after the acid kicks in and hyper-sexualised mayhem takes hold. His camera is a jaded inmate in the madhouse, drifting through the infernal murk of its Kubrickian corridors and prying from on high with a voyeur’s coolly appraising eye. For the second time, the disparate individuals have become one, their mutated, drug-crazed being feeding off and preying upon itself.


When not monkeying with the characters’ psychotic heads, Noé also likes to play Top This with his audience, arbitrarily inserting what would normally be closing credits into the action, then filming a closing scene upside down so that ravaged, after-party bodies appear to be floating on the ceiling. Why? Because this is funky, hard-core Art, and he can. And for those inclined to cry OTT, bear in mind that the dancers’ plunge from grace is loosely inspired by events that befell a real French dance troupe in 1996, God help them. You might also spare a thought for the epic moxie of Boutella, whose onscreen crack-up is a mini-series in itself. She brings an A+ game to Above and Beyond.