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Time destroys everything.
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7/10 by 426 users
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Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass. Her boyfriend and ex-lover take matters into their own hands by hiring two criminals to help them find the rapist so that they can exact revenge. A simultaneously beautiful and terrible examination of the destructive nature of cause and effect, and how time destroys everything.

Original Title:Irréversible
Release Date:May 22, 2002
Genres:Drama, Thriller, Crime, Mystery
Production Co.:Eskwad, StudioCanal, Wild Bunch, Les Cinémas de la Zone, Nord-Ouest Productions, Canal+, 120 Films
Production Countries:France
Director:Gaspar Noé
Casts:, , , , , , , , , , ,
Plot Keywords:paris, prostitute, rape, sex, nudity, trauma, knife, assault, police, love, revenge, unsimulated sex, cruelty, brutality, violence, drug, dark, evil, boyfriend, rape and revenge, underpass, new french extremism
Alternative Titles:
  • Visszafordíthatatlan - [HU]
  • Irreversibel - [AT]
  • Irreversível - [BR]
  • Irreversible - syntiset - [FI]
  • Mi anastrepsimos - [GR]
  • Μη Αναστρέψιμος - [GR]
  • Nepovratno - [HR]
  • Dönüs yok - [TR]
  • Необратимость - [RU]
  • Odpozadi - [RS]
  • Irreversível - [PT]
  • Nieodwracalne - [PL]
  • Alex - [JP]
  • Необратимо - [BG]

Irreversible Reviews

  • One of the most disturbing and confronting movies ever made.
    by Infofreak on 14 July 2003

    369 out of 421 people found the following review useful:

    Watching 'Irreversible' makes you question why you watch movies. If you just want movies to be entertainment and nothing more then obviously this is not something you will EVER want to see in your life. But if you think that film, like literature, is capable of many things, including looking at horrible and disturbing subject matter that you would prefer not to deal with, then 'Irreversible' is highly recommended. But beware, I feel I have the ability to stand all kinds of extreme material, but even I found it extremely difficult to watch. Writer/director Gaspar Noe previously made the brilliant and confrontational 'I Stand Alone', a movie that unfortunately never reached a wide audience. He manages to top himself with this one. Both movies make a mockery of supposedly "difficult" Hollywood fare like 'American Psycho', 'Fight Club', 'Boys Don't Cry' and 'Requiem For A Dream', which are pure Disney compared to Noe's work! 'Irreversible' has a similar structure popularized (but not originated) in Christopher Nolan's 'Memento'. The plot is told in reverse chronological order. This means that the early parts of the movie show the most distressing and difficult material and as the movie continues it gets progressively lighter, and therefore ends ironically on a happy ending. The opening sequences, after the first more subdued scene (which incidentally features a cameo from 'I Stand Alone' star Philippe Nahon as quite possibly the same character), are the most difficult to watch, not just because of WHAT happens (one of the most extreme and realistic acts of violence I've ever seen in a movie) but the way it is shown, with trippy, disorienting hand-held camera work. Later in the movie we see why this event happened by witnessing a grueling rape sequence which is almost impossible to watch. It is these two scenes which made this movie so notorious, but neither are gratuitous in my opinion, they are just REAL. This is reality. Things like this happen every day. Watching it is horrible yes, but even more horrible is the idea that real people must experience these events in the real world. This is what makes this such a disturbing and powerful movie if you have the stomach for it. On a technical level it is brilliant, and the acting by Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel, then still a couple off screen (gossip says this is no longer true), and Albert Dupontel is first rate. 'Irreversible' is obviously not a movie for everyone, but if you think you are up to it it comes with my highest possible recommendation, as does 'I Stand Alone' ('Seul contre tous'). These are two astonishing movies which look at the unlookable, and are literally unforgettable.

  • Cinematic Torture
    by dbborroughs on 19 February 2004

    372 out of 449 people found the following review useful:

    If movies are suppose to effect the viewer then this movie is king of the hill. From the dis-orienting camera moves that open the film through the violence in the gay bar, the seemingly never ending rape and the films unraveling of the days events in a backwards march I have yet to meet anyone who has not been deeply effected by this movie - if they were brave enough or stupid enough to watch it. (I'm still trying to figure out a local Best Buy displaying a large number of DVD's as if it was the latest Adam Sandler movie)

    It is not an easy movie to watch but as an examination of what people are capable and how violence can come from nowhere and from the unexpected its a masterpiece. The backward structure takes what is essentially a dull revenge story and turns it on its ear as we are forced to really examine how things get out of hand very quickly and what people will do when pushed to the limit.

    If you want a challenge to your psyche and can brave simply some of the most vicious and nasty screen violence (yes its graphic but much is also implied) then see this movie - preferably with out distraction. But be warned, even if you think you know what this movie is about and what your limits in screen violence is, you still won't be prepared for what a mental hot foot this film is.

  • Today I'm dirty, tomorrow just dirt - Time, deeds, man
    by Bogey Man on 28 June 2003

    292 out of 420 people found the following review useful:

    Argentinian born French film maker Gaspar Noé is already one of the most important and powerful film makers of all time. His 1998 debut feature film Seul Contre Tous is an unforgettably merciless but also so uniquely rewarding depiction of rotten society with even more rotten human beings that inhabit it with their selfishness and potential to violence and revenge - those things that everyone feels sometimes, more or less often, and things that only create more of them when not kept inactive and off. The last 15 minutes of Seul Contre Tous include some of the most unimaginably brilliant editing and camerawork (including a body-mounted camera and clever communication/estranging with the unsuspecting audience) not to speak of the soundtrack, which force us to see the truth about ourselves and things around us. Those mentioned elements are also the same that stamp the work of Japanese film maker Shinya Tsukamoto (Tetsuo in 1988, Gemini in 1999) who is also a friend of Noé. These two directors do most of the important parts of their film making themselves (camera operating, editing, directing, writing..) and both have the talent to smash the viewer straight to the face and force him and her to think and even change towards something better. Now Noé has even surpassed his power and moment of total breathlessness of Seul Contre Tous with his 2002 film Irréversible, a masterpiece that has the same ability to change people's lives and attitudes towards a better world, but with the kind of power of imagery and soundtrack that only few, unfortunately, as films like these deserved more attention and respect, are willing to accept and understand.

    Alex (Monica Bellucci), Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) are three French friends who live peacefully and also in love, as Alex and Marcus are together and love each other genuinely. Alex has also been with Pierre but their thing didn't work and now they are only friends and all three get along more than well. Comes a weekend night and time to go to have some fun with more friends. Then, as some alcohol and drugs are involved, comes some arguing with the lovers and Alex decides to go home to sleep and leave her drunken boyfriend to dance alone. Unfortunately for all (but fortunately for the real ill world and audience for whom this film with its message is made for) she meets the most evil thing ever possible to live inside the flesh and bones of human being and a terrible rape takes place. How does man with his instincts react when he learns something terrible and violent has happened to his loved one and there's also a possibility to get to know who did it? Revenge is a human need has the mighty director said and the man's potential for mindless violence, lack of moral and willing to take revenge are the main themes of this important film and it all is told with so much genius and unique elements the film already belongs to the list of the unmatched and the films that managed to make and achieve something for the first time in the history.

    The film is told backwards so that we'd see even clearlier what results from what and then we are forced to ask ourselves why, which requires to look inside our own heads and souls and look into the mirror. The film begins with the most infernal 20 minutes of the whole movie history and culminates to the most graphically violent and mentally and physically shocking sequence ever created that leaves no questions for what is the real nature of violence, and thus revenge, like. The incredible colors, lights and darkness of the beginning are already something very powerful and unique, but are accompanied even further by truly incredible usage and movements of camera as it twists and shakes in agony of forthcoming and present terror for the whole beginning of the film. The film has only 19 or so parts/scenes as it's told without single edits inside the parts. The form is very convincing and unconventional and naturally makes it even more realistic and easy to connect to our own world. Those who blame the disturbingly strobing, pounding and restless (sonic) imagery of the beginning don't know how much camera is in cinema and how a talented maker can use it, depict and show with it. It is Hell we're witnessing at the beginning of Irréversible so why would've Noé made it look peaceful, calm and harmless as it's all really bad and wicked even and especially for those who support it as we soon learn at the Rectum finale. It is Hell that can be found anywhere where humans live, be and do deeds together and to one another.

    Noé's camerawork is definitely something very difficult to imagine to be created and the director has said in interviews that there were indeed some segments (mostly the party sequence) when he thought he'd become crazy as it all was so difficult to do and keep in control. The camera is not so wild and restless after the beginning as there isn't even a reason for that, again an example of what does camera mean in cinema and how it must be used without being gratuitous or meaningless. The crane shots of the beginning of the story but the ending of the film are also breathtaking and hypnotic and also show for one last time what is another key element of (the) film alongside the imagery: the soundtrack and music, sounds and voices of the film. The soundtrack consists of menacing, pounding and with one word infernal sounds and also electric music, but those waves are the ones that are not likely to be found from any other film. The sounds make the happenings of the screen look like how they are inside the film and how they would be if and when something like that happened in real life. Never have I experienced and heard the soundtrack strengtening the images as it does in Irréversible. I had one of the year 2002's greatest and unforgettable moments when I saw the film on big screen, which it demands, and I will never forget the feelings I had during the opening of the film, and after I had read about the elements and creating of the soundtrack, I understood even more about the uneasiness of myself and the audience as well as the genius of its creator. If one decides not to agree with Noé about the anti-violent message of the film, he will be smashed numb in front of the images and sounds whether he wanted it or not.

    The point of the unspeakable violence of the film is to make it look and feel as bad and irreversible as in real world too. When the revenge takes place and we experience something extremely ugly and both physically and mentally painful Noé forces us to see the things that the avenging minds don't see, at least in time, how violence always requires more of it as human beings are pretty much the same animal and we all share these instincts and potential which still could and can be fought against. The revenge and its destroying face comes clear when we ask ourselves who did, what did, to whom did and finally why did, and when the viewer admits those things and accepts the answers the message Noé meant has been delivered. In films violence can be harrowingly brutal, shocking and graphic without being gratuitous and just cheap exploitation shock, and that is the case with Noé's work as in any other important film that builds and gives, and never takes/exploits anything by raping the tool of cinema. After the Rectum finale, only a stupid and a weak mind can think that any wise decisions were made, after the fateful rape, by the characters, humans.

    Also the infamous crime scene that started it all is so easy to be judged as "unacceptable" and, even more laughably, "pornographic", as now it is nothing less than effective and useful for its purpose, useful to show the nature of sexual violence and how it really is, ugly, nauseating, sadistic and without respect for human life. If someone asks why such a long scene of rape must be filmed as those kind of things happen in real world all the time, the answer is a new question: since those things happen around us all the time and other tools have not been able to stop them or other violence in our world, why couldn't an artist try his own extremely powerful tool (cinema, image and sound) to change and affect things and people? Can there be enough weapons to stop those things happening around us and why the attempts of cinema and a film maker so often are overlooked and not given the acceptance and importance they deserved? Perhaps because they show too much about our very selves and to admit it, that everyone of us is just a human, is too difficult for many.

    Another important theme of the film is that of its title, how things and deeds are and remain how they once get done, and the more serious and critical the deed is, the more we look and think about it afterwards, still never being able to change it once it's been done as time is so merciless. Beautiful, sunny and sweet things full of life can turn into destruction, darkness, agony, death and eternal loss especially if wrong and fast decisions are made and too much power for the animal instincts are given. Noé's phrase "time destructs everything" is more than true, but also, to some extent, possible to be affected by us who live this world and life so that no more destruction than there already is would take place. Too often precious things get killed because we didn't understand and see early enough, and that's why films like this are universal and eternally fresh in their themes. The film is not thoroughly pessimistic and hopeless due to certain images of beauty and possibility; the images of the beginning were destructed by a happening not possible to be prevented but the total death and Hell could have been prevented, and that's why we, the audience see it first.

    The actors all do incredible job as there wasn't a script for the film, only a few written pages about the main happenings and parts of the story so all the dialogue was improvised by Noé's instructions and the three do it very naturally and it is not possible to guess there wasn't a screenplay for them without knowing it. In any possible aspect this film is unique and like no other: it was made like no other, it includes images and sounds like no other, and it has a theme and message so strong like no other film (some getting close) in the whole history of movie making. Great art doesn't need to be conventional and like the other works of its kind, and possibly the greatest thing an artist can achieve is a new, powerful, view and way to present it. That Noé achieved and delivered. He did a masterpiece in 1998 and he did another, even more powerful masterpiece in 2002. Both films are perfect in my values and thus among the most important works ever made. Noé did these two and he's still young and full of ideas about themes and elements which he will use in his forthcoming projects. He must not be left outside the canon of the most important masters and philosophers of cinema like some other have, and the world doesn't even know how much it gets if the financers of his films would understand this too. It is like I and the other audience didn't know what was to come when the hypnotic credits of Irréversible started to roll on the silent screen. 10/10

  • Hits you in the face like a ten ton hammer!
    by Coventry on 14 February 2004

    265 out of 371 people found the following review useful:

    Holy Macaroni! Believe the hype, folks...this really IS one of the most shocking, confronting and raw movies ever made! It actually is one of those rare purchases that makes you wonder what the role of cinema is in modern society. Irréversible certainly can't be classified as 'entertainment', that's for sure. It merely looks like a brutal eye-opener, highly unpleasant to watch at times and it sometimes makes you even feel ashamed to be human! Some of the stuff here goes beyond your most feared nightmares and could easily provoke depression, anti-social behavior and anxiety among influential viewers. It's real-life drama and that makes it so powerful and shocking. Irréversible is told backwards, 'Memento'-style if you wish...only it's a lot more effective here as it was in Memento, which actually was a pretty boring and extremely overrated movie. This very simple backwards-structure aspect gives Irréversible the opportunity to implement a couple of unique and rarely seen style elements. The first half hour (which actually is the end of the story) smacks you in the face right away sets the tone for a non-stop, raw experience. Also, you don't really get to know the characters until the last chapter (which is actually the beginning of the film) The characters are a riddle to you constantly and you can't symphatise with any of them, since you just know too little. Through wild camera movements and simplistic techno-music, a claustrophobic and horrifying atmosphere gets created and the violence is really hard to digest. The infamous scene in which Monica Belluci brutally gets raped is one of the most perverted things I've ever seen. It seems to go on forever and you can really visiualise the painful hell the poor girl is going through. I'd call Irréversible a successful combination of ancient, rough exploitation and modern art-house film-making. The brutality portrayed here is typical for the euro-shock cinema but the stylish shooting lifts it up to Cannes Festival material. Cult as pure as it comes!

  • Stick with it - not enjoyable, but admirable
    by sackleywhistle ( on 2 September 2003

    172 out of 203 people found the following review useful:

    After notorious walkouts at Cannes and the controversy around the difficult, long, unrelenting rape scene, this was high on my must-see list of the last year. Not for voyeuristic reasons, but because, like A Clockwork Orange before it, the most controversial films are often those with the most to say.

    This is not a date movie. Nor is it a pleasant, enjoyable experience. It is, however, pure cinema from a director working at the highest technical level, with the camera, with lighting, with makeup, with scripting and with performance.

    Irreversible is that rare beast, a self-contained experience which goes beyond the cinematic and aesthetic to show something real, both touching and frightening, beautiful and horrific, simple and innovative. The first twenty minutes are among the toughest you will encounter on the screen. The sound whines and hums, the camera spins in all directions, disorientating and showing glimpses of the scene. Dialogue is sparse, the same lines being repeated over and over again. The subject matter is unpleasant, taking place in a seedy gay club, the protagonists (Dupontel and Cassel) searching for someone called the Tenia (named after a tape-worm). And when they find him, there is a sequence which lasts maybe two minutes which is incredibly difficult to watch, yet difficult not to watch. Almost in disbelief, you cannot believe what you are watching is happening, yet marvel at how real it is, both technically and in terms of human character.

    Beyond that, the film does not let up for about another half an hour, as the backwards-played story begins to piece itself together, leading to an act of provocation unrivalled in cinema history. My second viewing of the film was with a 21-year-old female who found it the hardest scene she had ever watched. It is the details of the rape that make it so shocking - her constant crying and squirming, his inherent joy at her discomfort, his pinning of her arms and gagging her mouth, the passer-by who sees the scene and walks away, unbeknownst to either of them. And when the long, unsettling scene is over, the greatest act of destruction occurs - the destruction of purity and beauty. Yet, as the film is told backwards, when the rape is over, we know there is more to come as we have already seen the aftermath. The brilliance is in naively praying it won't happen, resigned to the knowledge that it will.

    My co-viewer demanded that we stop the film there but i had to insist that she finish the film. Without following the film through to the end(or the beginning), we would not know the reason that the director put these scenes in front of us. For me the greatest scenes are those that follow - the party scene, the subway journey of the three main characters, the post-dream awakening of the central couple - because they lift the film out of enfant terrible provocation and into a place of simultaneous beauty and pessimism, making sense of the journey all three characters are about to embark on. In particular the significance of dreams is a key theme, along with the linear, destructive power of time which the whole film is playing around with.

    The film ends with the most difficult sequence to watch, the spinning beautiful image of Monica Bellucci prior to any of the events of the film followed by a strobe light effect which is physically difficult to watch, burning images and words into the brain.

    Clearly Noe is a director intent on provoking a reaction and - thank God - it is impossible not to react to this film. You may hate it, you may admire it or you may be disgusted by it. All of these are perfect reactions to it. You cannot be indifferent to it. While it is undoubtedly a hard film to sit through, if you put in the effort it rewards in dividends. And it not only deserves but really requires multiple viewings, if you can stomach it. There is far more than can be taken in on the first visit, much to decipher and interpret that I will not spoil here.

    While it does seem to reference the controversy of the aforementioned Kubrick classic - taking the violence and sexual abuse aspects to new levels, updating for a new generation - and even directly tips its hat to Kubrick - panning down from a poster of 2001 as classical music swells, before going into a psychadelic head-trip - this is a much harder, yet more humane film than Kubrick ever achieved. There is unpleasantness here, do not be fooled, but there is also insightful comment on the nature of humanity, instinct, violence, even love and relationships which alone makes the film worthy of appreciation. It is not a film all will be able to sit through - for a start, its subtitled! - but it is a film which deserves to be seen at least once by anyone with an appreciation of cinema. It is among the finest examples of modern French cinema available and one of the most intelligent and original films from anywhere in the last five years.

    Finally, it wouldn't be right to hail the film without mentioning the performers. Monica Bellucci is outstanding in an undoubtedly difficult part, conveying the beauty, intelligence, womanliness, emotion and despair of Alex in a way that never screams "Moviestar!" and is always believable. Dupontel is wonderful in perhaps the film's most interesting role, a complex intellectual who, it is often overlooked, gives in to his most primal urges. He is sad, smart, witty and ultimately disturbed. But highest praise goes to Cassel, one of the most interesting actors working, who carries most of the film, emitting charm, energy, fear, shock, humour and weakness. It is hard not to focus on him in any given scene and impossible to catch him acting, high praise indeed given the other subjects which often fill the screen (not least the stunning Bellucci). Together, they are prime examples of true actors giving themselves over completely to their characters in a way that the likes of Nicole Kidman simply can't. They may be stars, but they are first and foremost brilliant performers.

    Take caution, but do not miss if you get the chance.

  • A sad, depressing movie.
    by CTzen on 9 February 2004

    159 out of 217 people found the following review useful:

    A lot has been said about this movie. Yes, there are a couple of brutal and violent scenes. It's even hard to watch at times, but Irreversible is much more than that.

    I personally think that the acting is great. There's a natural chemistry between the 3 main characters. Monica Bellucci does a wonderful job as Alex. I give her a lot credit for being involved in such difficult role.

    I really like the way the story was told. Some people say that it's a rip off of Memento, and that it doesn't work well in this movie, but I have to disagree. The movie "starts" in a dark way, with a lot of graphic images and violence. But at the end there's this kind of peace, a little dose of happiness..."the calm before the storm". It works really well, and that's what make this a really sad story.

    I really recommend this film. But like I said before, it can be hard to watch. Just watch it with an open mind and give it a try.

  • Brilliant!
    by HumanoidOfFlesh on 29 January 2003

    139 out of 194 people found the following review useful:

    I am very surprised to see all of the negative complaints towards this film.Like "I Spit on Your Grave" or "I Stand Alone","Irreversible" is only rubbish to those who don't understand it,or don't want to understand it.Gaspar Noe tells us the story about love and revenge-a pregnant young woman(outstanding Monica Bellucci)is violently raped and tortured in the underground passage.Her boyfriend(Vincent Cassel)desperately tries to find her rapist to kill him.The infamous Monica Bellucci's anal rape scene is truly brutal and sickening,but at least the film can't be accused of eroticizing,trivializing or glamourizing rape,something many mainstream movies are guilty of.It actually shows that rape is a brutal and disgusting act.Congratulations should go to this stunningly beautiful actress for her brave performance.It's obvious that women should be treated with respect,unfortunately this is the kind of a sexual violence women are dealing with everyday and everywhere.In that case Cassel's savage behaviour is completely justified.The scenes in "Rectum" are genuinely nightmarish and infernal.The film will leave you shaken and desolated,so if you want to see something totally mind-shattering,then "Irreversible" is a must-see.An absolute 10 out of 10.

  • Unforgettably Cruel and Disturbing
    by Claudio Carvalho on 6 August 2004

    107 out of 138 people found the following review useful:

    I have been watching movies for decades, and as far as I remember, only three movies have disturbed me. The first one was `Soldier Blue', when I was a teenager, explicitly showing the massacre of the American Indians. Later, in 1982, `Sophie's Choice', when a mother has to decide which son shall remain alive. `Irreversible', which I saw yesterday, was the third one. The storyline is very simple: In Paris, a young couple goes to a party with a friend by subway. They discuss, and the woman decides to return back home alone. She is violently raped in an underground passage. Her husband and her friend decide to make justice by themselves. What makes the difference in this polemic movie? First of all, like in `Memento', the story is presented backwards, in a reverse chronology, from the credits to the beginning. Although not being original, unfolded this way, the story shocks much more. Then, the cruelty of at least two very explicit scenes (the rape of Alexandra and the aggression and crime of Pierre in the gay night-club) are amazingly well choreographed and real. The beginning of the film, with the camera spinning randomly, and a weird soundtrack, makes the viewer sick and so disoriented and disturbed as Marcus, the character of Vincent Cassel. Therefore, technically this film is outstanding. The performance of the cast and the direction, photography and soundtrack are stunning. Living in Rio de Janeiro, a violent city, the story is very real and scary, and that is why it shakes up more than a horror movie. We never believe that this situation may happen to ourselves or to our friends, but the daily newspaper shows many similar examples. The idea of the irreversibility of time and its destruction, the same way of the lives of the characters in this movie, is fantastic. Certainly a very sensitive person will be sick and will not like this movie. The box of the DVD should advise that this story is recommended to a specific audience. My vote is eight.

    Title (Brazil): `Irreversível' (`Irreversible')

  • some of the most disturbing scenes ever
    by Roland E. Zwick ( on 28 June 2004

    102 out of 130 people found the following review useful:

    If there's one thing that can be stated with utmost certainty, it is that `Irreversible,' a French film by writer/director Gaspar Noe, is not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. In fact, this tale of the brutal rape of a helpless young woman is one of the most harrowing films ever made and features two of the most graphic scenes ever committed to film: the rape itself and the killing of the man responsible for the rape.

    Although I imagine that very few people will end up subjecting themselves to this film in the long run, those who do will witness an amazing piece of work in many ways. Like the movie `Betrayal' from 1983, `Irreversible' tells its story in reverse chronological order. It begins with a frenzied man racing through a gay sex club, madly searching for someone we know merely as Le Tenia. Only as the story develops - as we are taken ever further back in time - do we begin to understand what is going on: that this young man, Marcus, is seeking vengeance on the rapist who has brutally attacked his pregnant girlfriend. Noe keeps us in a state of confusion by filming the scene in such a way as to reflect the maniacal state of Marcus' revenge-obsessed mind. The camera bounces around in epileptic confusion while the audience attempts to get its bearings. Eventually, as the filmmakers backtrack to reveal the events that have led up to this moment, the camera calms down and we get to see the whole ugly story acted out in painfully graphic detail. In fact, in the rape scene itself, Noe reverses his filmmaking style 180 degrees, deliberately leaving the camera stationary and focused on the event as it plays itself out. He simply won't allow us to stop looking.

    There are some, I imagine, who might object to this film on moral grounds, feeling that it is little more than a cynical exploitation picture with artistic pretensions. Yet that condemnation would do a disservice to the makers of this film who, I believe, do not want us to revel in the sordidness of what we see, but rather to be appalled by the unspeakably brutal way in which human beings can treat their fellow human beings. By having us sit and witness every moment of this brutality without the comforting filter of cutaway shots or easy dissolves, Noe forces us to face the ugly truths about ourselves as a species. The reverse-order structure of the film heightens the tragic nature of the story for it allows us to see just how happy and hopeful these characters are in the time right before the rape shatters their lives. The latter half of the film contains no physical violence, yet watching it unfold is an ineffably sad experience, for we, unlike the characters themselves, are privy to the Sword of Damocles so precariously poised over their unsuspecting heads, yet find ourselves helpless in being able to rescue them from the inevitable destruction it will cause. Thus, the structure robs us of even the remotest option of hoping against hope that the tragedy can somehow be avoided - for we have seen it as an already completed action. For while the film may be `reversible,' life itself is not. In the case of this film, at least, form does, indeed, become content.

    Vincent Cassel as Marcus, Monica Bellucci as his girlfriend, Alex, and Albert Dupontel as their mutual friend, Pierre, all deliver excellent, heartfelt performances.

    I doubt that many people will have the intestinal fortitude to make it through large segments of this film, but those who do will surely never forget what they've seen.

  • The 3 H's: Horrifc, Haunting and Honest
    by Kristine ( on 19 September 2010

    50 out of 58 people found the following review useful:

    A few months ago while I was going through the message boards on IMDb, someone was talking about disturbing films and one that seemed to come up the most was a film called Irreversible. This film has come up in discussion so many times when the subject of disturbing film is brought to attention. When I think I've seen the worst of the worst, I figured I should see what Irreversible had to offer. I have to admit after watching this movie, it stayed with me. Definitely not being the easiest movie to watch, Irreversible has a style to it and a very disturbing story that can haunt many for different reasons. Wither it's the extreme violence, the cursing, the drugs or the 9 minute rape scene, Gasper Noe takes you into this very dark world and doesn't let you go.

    The beginning of Irreversible (that is, the chronological end of the story) features two men going to a homosexual S&M nightclub called "The Rectum." Minutes earlier, the men named Marcus and Pierre, are escorted out of that nightclub by the police. Marcus is on a stretcher, apparently injured, and Pierre is in handcuffs. Earlier that evening, Marcus and Pierre arrived at the club in a frantic search for somebody nicknamed le Tenia. Marcus finds the man believed to be le Tenia and attacks him. The man pins down Marcus, then snaps his arm. Pierre rescues Marcus by bludgeoning the attacker's face using a fire extinguisher, brutally and fatally crushing the man's skull after repeated blows. During the onslaught, the real le Tenia is seen to be amused by the situation. It is revealed that le Tenia raped Marcus's girlfriend Alex, and placed her in a coma by beating her severely.

    Filmed backwards I thought was extremely brilliant, at least the way I interpret it. We see EXTREME violence and sexuality in the beginning, pretty much being up front that this movie is going to be very uncomfortable and not a movie for all. Gasper Noe is basically telling the audience "what you see is what you get", not trying to pull you into something you might not want to be apart of. It also shows that these two men who kill this man violently are possibly the bad guys? No, it turns out as we discover that a woman they both love has been brutally raped and beaten. Then when we meet her, she's not just some woman who is the girlfriend of one of men trying to get revenge or a girl at a party dressed in a skimpy outfit, this is a woman who is walking out of a party trying to get home and comes across the "wrong place, wrong time" situation. The rape scene, reason being that it's so different than any other rape scene you might have viewed in another film, it's long, one angle and the words that come out of the rapist's mouth are just awful. It's the most realistic rape scene I've viewed and I have to warn you that please, if you have a weak stomach or have had that horrific experience, this is not a movie for you.

    Irreversible is definitely violent, there is a scene that most people debate which is more disturbing, the rape or the fire extinguisher. The fire extinguisher is at the beginning of the film and is definitely realistic and beyond disturbing, because you see everything. Also the hatred behind the killer is just there, he has no remorse for what he is doing. Then when we find out later that he kills the wrong guy, it just makes it that more brutal. Gasper Noe also films the movie in the worst way in the beginning making the audience sick with his spinning camera and disturbing noises. He doesn't lie to you, he knows this film is going to be one of the most frightening pieces of work you'll see, and he doesn't want you comfortable with it. Irreversible is one of the hardest films for me to recommend because it just depends on what kind of a viewer you are. If you can handle extreme violence, sexuality and language, you could get through this. I watched A Clockwork Orange when I was a teenager and hated it because I felt that Kubrick was trying to make me sympathize with Alex, before watching Irreversible, I re-watched A Clockwork Orange and realized I missed the whole message of the film. It wasn't about Alex, but our society and I have the greatest admiration for the film now. Irreversible shows how we can go from hating someone to understanding their position to rooting for them. Are we the animals? Irreversible will have you thinking for days, this is a film I will never forget.


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