Irréversible Reviews

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Super Reviewer
March 24, 2014
Whether or not they tried very hard to get some of the odd shots they pulled off, this whole film feels like build-up to nothing, because the last 20 minutes has the most relevance out of the entire film. "Irreversible" is notorious for it's rape scene, but I must say that I am surprised the film was even allowed to be released having that display. It may be some great and brutally honest acting, or he really did rape her, because I felt heartless after that scene. I do not have much to say about this film, because not really a whole lot happens until the end. It really is just a bizarre look into the directors mind I guess. This film will be forgotten in my mind for many reasons. There are some very cool edits and camera movements, but that is all this film has going for it. I didn't like it very much.
Super Reviewer
January 27, 2013
How difficult is it to show the inhumanity in rape and brutal violence? This film is too interested in setting up sick ironies, like one scene soon after we see a woman being raped, where she coldly tells her ex a few hours before hand that he couldn't ever please her sexually because he wasn't selfish enough. Or towards the end (at the tragic day's beginning), when she defiantly lectures to her current lover that he didn't steal her from another man, because a woman always chooses in the end. In almost every shot with the victim, the focus is on her as a sexual object. If the intent for showing the story backwards was for us to see the humanity of a woman we see raped and brutalized, then the last half of the script did a lackluster job, spending its time weaving something more devious. In fact, following the life of any female character for 40 minutes before she is raped would have made such a violent assault even more difficult to watch, not easier. This is an amoral exploitation film dressed in smoke and mirrors.
Super Reviewer
June 18, 2006
Just one day after watching Oldboy and calling it one of the more grueling films I'd seen in a while, I finally sat down to watch the much talked about Gaspar Noe film Irreversible, and yeah, we have a new champion. This might be the most disturbing/distressing, and unrelenting film I've seen period.

And you know what? I actually rather respect and admire this movie. I can't say I necessarily liked it or enjoyed it, but I am glad I saw it.

A conventional story of brutal revenge and equally brutal revenge that takes place over the course of one nightmarish night is done in a really unconventional way, and that's probably the film's saving grace. We get about 12 or 13 extended scenes, each done as a single take (or at least appearing to be that way) presented in reverse chronological order. Doing a film in reverse has only been done two other times so far (Harold Pinter's Betrayal and Christopher Nolan's Memento), but I'm going to guess that its usage here is far more important and less gimmicky than with the other two, and I have to guess since I haven't seen the Pinter film.

It really works though, and isn't a gimmick, because showing the film in the correct order would just make it purely exploitative; Having the revenge, then the rape, then the peace makes you rethink the scenario, and the film earns its graphic content that way.

Yeah, the film isn't just about the infamous 9 minute rape (which is undeniably all a single take), or the fire extinguisher beating. It has a point, and works as an unrelenting study in depravity, cause and effect, and the consequences of actions and revenge.

From structural and technical standpoints, the film is quite masterful and arty. I loved the reverse narrative, I adored the use of extended takes (even though some are disguised, and meant to appear as single takes), and the mise-en-scene that is employed (primarily though cinematography and sound design) to make this film a really uncomfortable, grueling, and awful experience. It gets the point across quite nicely, and does have a moral stance on rape, despite how unsubtle and vile the method of delivery.

The performances are great. Real life husband and wife Monica Bellucci and Vicnent Cassel are great as screen couple Alex (the victim) and Marcus (one of her avengers), and you can tell they have great chemistry with one another. I also really have to applaud them for their willingness to take part in this, given the nature of things. By having the film play out as it does, we get a far better and richer understanding of their characters, which wouldn't happened if this was done in a straightforward way. Albert Dupontel is also great as Alex's former lover and Marcus's best friend. Then there's Jo Prestia as Le Tenia, who easily succeeds as one of the most vile and detestable screen characters ever.

This is not an easy film to watch, but it is worth it.
paul o.
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2011
Not a date movie! Its a hardcore french film about revenge and RAPE! Gasper Noe does not pull any punches when making this film about an evening gone wrong.
Super Reviewer
March 10, 2007
Human behaviour portrayed in it's most unpleassent form. Unlike real pointless shock-fests like Baise Moi here is a movie tackling very disturbing material in a far more focused and mature way. The main cast do a magnificent job, Miss Bellucci proofs she has not only the looks but also the skills of a good actress.

Certainly not for everyone, approach with caution.
Super Reviewer
½ October 7, 2007
A nasty, hard to watch exploitation flick about a woman (Monica Bellucci) who is brutally raped and beaten, and how her boyfriend and one of her ex-es go on a violent rampage in order to find the one responsible for her assault. While you definitely have to give director Gaspar Noe points for competently telling his story backwards, this thing is an unpleasant, disturbing, and ultimately disappointing viewing experience. It contains without question the most brutal rape scene recorded in the history of film, but that scene in particular aptly sums up the movie's overall intention - to be unpleasant just for the sake of being unpleasant. This is a shame, since Belucci gives a courageous, strong performance and Cassel's shift in character is incredibly arresting. There is also some weird fascination with surrealistic aspects that are never really addressed appropriately, and it just seems out of place by the end of the film. Overall, very missable, and just a huge disappointment, when one considers that this could have been a searing, tightly constructed drama without having to go completely overboard (the rape scene is....9 minutes long - why?), or indulge in meaningless philosophical mumbo-jumbo that lead to nowhere.
Super Reviewer
½ May 9, 2011
A very well done piece of cinema. Sucked me right in and left me anxious and intrigued to see what exactly set "all of this" into motion.

While I know that this film is designed to keep you on edge and disturb your emotions...I felt that the rape scene went on for far too long. I actually had to get up and walk away, because I found it that disturbing.

Aside from that horrific scene, there are plenty of other visions of violence, gore and sex to keep you on edge and feeling disturbed and (quite frankly) a little dirty.

Not a film for everyone, but definately worth seeing if you are a fan of any of Noe's other work.
Super Reviewer
½ March 11, 2008
Heartbreaking, disturbing and depressing it's a film I loved to watch (most of it anyway) but I never want to see it again. I hope Bellucci won some awards because wow does she deserve them.
Super Reviewer
January 26, 2011
This film really affected me. Writing about it could never do it any justice. If you have the stomach for it, watch it. It is equally beautiful, mesmerizing, & flat out horrific. I understand the criticism, but I do see more there than just a succession of brutal images.
Argue with me if you want, but I think this is a pretty stunning piece of cinema.
Super Reviewer
January 19, 2011
The constant camera spinning during this film is annoying and nauseating, not innovative, in my opinion. If the rotating camera doesn't make you ill, though, the disturbingly graphic violence, or raw hatred, probably will. I am not someone who is easily offended by the darker elements of humanity in movies, but this film forced me to turn away from the screen more than once. There was a good story here, and the fact that it was told backwards probably made it a wee bit easier to take as a whole (seeing as you are neither attached, nor sympathizing with the characters in any way when most of the uglier things occur).This had the potential to be an amazing film, but the nauseating camera work was too much for me.
Super Reviewer
January 23, 2007
Gaspar Noe's films - at least, the two of them I've seen - are provocative, cruel and challenging, assaulting the viewer on just about every level possible. If Enter the Void is a dark, turbulent dream, Irreversible is nothing short of a waking nightmare. It is completely uninterested in the metaphorization or obfuscation of the realities it depicts; you see a violent rape through the unflinching eye of the camera, a savage beating and the after-effects, the filterless rage of a man out for revenge. It would be one thing to insinuate all of these, through shadows or cutaways or third-party dialogue, but these images are committed to celluloid from start to finish. The only metaphor here is that these actions are fictional. The title "Irreversible" could mean an infinite amount of things, and I'm sure they will be argued over ad nauseam, just as this film has been. To me, the film is saying that these acts are there for us to see and nothing, neither backpedaling through time nor exacting violent revenge, will be able to undo their existence. Thus, Irreversible.
Super Reviewer
½ May 26, 2007
A young woman is brutally raped in a subway tunnel provoking huge discussions between beret wearing chin strokers as to whether or not it's art. This film is most definitely well acted, particularly I'd have to say by Monica Belucci who I never really considered a great actress before, but she is totally believable which is why the ordeal she endures is even more difficult to stomach. The rape scene is truly horrific; I genuinely believe that sensationalism was not the aim, and its brutal realism is almost unbearable. But what of the rest of the film? The story is told in reverse, but I couldn't really see the reason why beyond disguising the minimality of the plot. Were we supposed to be MORE horrified by what we'd seen after we'd gotten to know some personal details about the victim? That makes little sense in the context of a film where realism rather than manipulation is supposed to be the key to the reaction to what we are seeing. I do believe that there was a point to making this film beyond commercial shock value, but whatever the message was, it is lost in a morbid sea of erratic camera movements and sexual violence. I could just as easily dismiss any attempts at intellectualizing it and just describe it as Cloverfield with rape instead of a monster. When I was at art college, a fellow student decided to illustrate the horror of rape, and how he chose to do it was draw, well, a rape. We thought it was a powerful and challenging piece of work at the time, but now I look back I see it was rather naive and immature to the point where it could be construed as another form of dumbing down; as if witnessing the act itself is the only way a viewer could understand that "rape is bad". This film reminded me of that illustration. It is easy to illicit a gut reaction; the job of art is to provoke thought. In that, this film fails. The sensation is rather more like having your nose rubbed in somebody else's filth.
The Gandiman
Super Reviewer
July 12, 2010
Intense and disturbing, yet captivating.
Super Reviewer
½ January 14, 2010
Le temps détruit tout - Time destroys everything
Bill D 2007
Super Reviewer
½ November 15, 2009
"Irreversible" is a grisly, virulently homophobic and uninteresting film. It was one of the centerpieces of the French New Extremity movement, which has now petered out, thank heavens. The film tells a story backwards (how cool!). The opening sequence involves a dead body being removed from a gay sex club called the Rectum. (Yes, that truly is what writer/director Gaspar Noe chose to call the club. This should give you an indication of the stupidity of this film.)

The next scene takes place in the Rectum, with two men searching for a man named Tenia and then committing a brutal murder, which is filmed in graphic detail. In this sequence we don't just get to watch a murder; we get to see about 50 men having anal and oral sex in a sewer-like atmosphere. When the murder occurs, the gay men watch as if they find it entertaining. Noe's view of gay men resembles Hitler's view of Jews. Not since 1980's "Cruising" have we seen gays depicted as a subhuman race.

In the next sequence, we watch the murderers try to find the Rectum. (They actually shout, "We're going to the Rectum!") Pretty quickly you realize that the scenes are strung together in reverse order.

Eventually we meet Tenia, a gay man, and we learn why the two straight men want to kill him. The infamous rape scene (anal rape of course) is the reason. If you've heard anything about "Irreversible," you've heard about its brutally long and graphic rape scene. What makes the scene so long is that we watch as the rapist struggles to orgasm. He pounds in and out for a long time before he can finally ejaculate. We sit there and watch every one of his pounding moves, for something like 10 minutes. After coming, he beats the woman nearly to death.

Is there a point to all of this? Maybe it's to decry the growing popularity of male homosexuality. I don't know. Noe is such an uninteresting filmmaker that I'm not sure it's even worth it to spend the time trying to figure out what makes him tick. I am generally a fan of extreme approaches to art. I love when artists have the courage to break boundaries and taboos. But there has to be a compelling reason. Extremity for extremity's sake is not art -- it's adolescent silliness. Attacking a minority group could be considered a rationale, but it's not a compelling rationale. It's a loathsome one. It makes Noe appear like the scum in the Rectum.
Super Reviewer
October 19, 2006
Told in the tradition of that in "Memento" i.e the storyline is played backwards, the film opens with a very visually dark scene accompanied by a pretty bizarre sound (that's still running through my head!! ha ha), along with some very dizzy filming, the viewer isn't particularly aware of what is going on straight away, but within the first couple of scenes the storyline developes and of course you are intrigued to know, how it all began.

The married couple, Cassel and Bellucci are great together on screen in this unique, bizarre and very entertaining film. One scene in particular is very daring and controversial.

Another great performance from Cassel who seems to manage to express every emotion possible throughout the process of the film.
Super Reviewer
½ January 6, 2009
Standard tale of vengeance told in a VERY non-standard way. The film begins with an ending and ends with a beginning. As a result, you're confronted with the brutality of revenge before you've experienced the motive behind it.

Irreversible is an ingenious bit of film-making that manages to be both cerebral and, at times, unrelentingly violent. A fantastic film that I never, never, never want to see again.
Super Reviewer
October 6, 2008
This is a hypnotic film utterly self-contained and deserving of the proclamation as genius.

I was skeptical of this film, as I am skeptical of any movie that uses rape to sensationalize itself and gain publicity. Most films like that, the rape scene is the only decent part and the rest of the film is dreck. Well, this whole film is just astonishing, blinding, and mind-warping.

The camerawork had me in a trance state, and it is some of the most amazing cinematography I've seen in ANY recent film. For people who clearly do not know anything about film technique and openly admit that with their negative reviews of the cinematography: this isn't the handheld crap you gobble up at the box office, you just think that because you think "oh camera's moving and that means they mustn't have bothered setting up the shot", when actually these are some of the most cleverly coordinated sequences in film history.

I love the reverse linear implemented here, as it really drives home the film's spoken point: "Time ruins everything".

There is NO excuse for anyone serious about film not to view this entire work.

Hot Gay Sex commentary: another one on the list wherein the hot gay sex is a minor detail in a large shock/exploitation plot centered on rape. Still, the third scene of the film is entirely set in an uber butch leather/BDSM sex den, and features some quite memorable snippets, especially the guy begging to get fisted. There's also loads of male frontal nudity here - something Americans know next to nothing about.

"So Fucked Up" highlight: Bashing in the guy's face - it's one of the greater special effects achievements in history; it's HOW ONE DOES practical and CG together.
Super Reviewer
½ November 4, 2008
This movie is just awfully long, and perhaps I need to watch it again cuz I was just too pissed to even remember most of the story, all I can remember about it was its full of brutal horifying scenes and at the end, the camera pretty much acted like a fly. (going around and around making me dizzier than I already was, haha!!)

Ill just write a proper review for this when Im not knackered.

Flixster should rated this movie for Mature Audiences Only.
Super Reviewer
½ November 5, 2006
Irreversible is almost impossible to watch and the only reason its a total stretch instead of an exercise in futility is because it's told in reverse order--kind of like Memento except nowhere nearly as good. The first 30-40 minutes are fucking unbearable (and not because some of the action takes place at a gay club called The Rectum) but because of the drunken cinematographer and the total chaos. The almost 10 minute rape scene was the most vile I've seen to date. Irreversible is a movie that you only need to see once; presuming you can make it through and you feel the need to see it in the first place. Extra points for a naked Monica Belluci in scenes where she doesn't get raped and for some originality. Unfortunately the rest of the stains didn't come out in the wash.
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