SXSW Film Reviews

Two years after graduation, a gang of high school buddies reunites for an evening of air hockey and reverse peristalsis.

Climax

D: Sean Baker; with Fred Berman, David Ari, Paul Weissner, Loren Ecker. (35mm, 84 min.)

Two years after graduation, a gang of high school buddies reunites for an evening of air hockey and reverse peristalsis in an immaculately bland, wood-paneled suburban homestead appointed with foamy beer and Bon Jovi posters. But this is no feel-good nostalgia piece. Writer-director Sean Baker takes a jaundiced look at these good old boys, who range from pathetic to despicable: a bitter, compulsive masturbator with a fetish for Asian women; a mullet-headed virgin; a fatuous "Dr. Who" fan who natters on about "cultural crimes against society." The minimal story is dyspeptic and dialogue-driven, with an Eric Bogosian feel and the meandering pace of dramatic improvisation. There's not much momentum from scene to scene, and Baker disrupts the overall naturalism with gimmicky jump cuts. But the ensemble is fine, and the film has a stomach-churning, downbeat authenticity. (Alamo 3/15, 7:45pm)

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