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.
Certainly not for everyone, approach with caution.
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.
Argue with me if you want, but I think this is a pretty stunning piece of cinema.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ill just write a proper review for this when Im not knackered.
Flixster should rated this movie for Mature Audiences Only.