Movie Review: Irréversible [2002]

Irréversible [2002]

Irréversible [2002]
Directors: Gaspar Noé
Genre: Crime/Drama/Mystery
Language: French
Country: France

I have heard over and over again that Irréversible is one of the most disturbing movies ever created, and finally I had to see what all the fuss was about. Let’s just say that by the time the credits rolled, I was absolutely speechless.

First things first, believe everything you have heard. This is a brutal and often downright disgusting film, and it is painfully hard to watch. The movie is about a woman named Alex (Monica Bellucci) who is out partying with her boyfriend Marcus (real-life husband Vincent Cassel) and her ex, Pierre (Albert Dupontel). After leaving the party, she is brutally raped by a stranger (Jo Prestia) while walking home alone. When Marcus and Pierre find out what happened, they set out to get revenge on the asshole by taking justice into their own hands.

Irréversible [2002]

Irreversible is told in reverse chronological order (a la Memento) so the brutality begins right away. In the early moments, we are taken to a gay nightclub called Rectum (how subtle) where the two guys believe the rapist is hanging out. While they frantically look for the assailant, the camera is twisting and turning all over the place, making it difficult to see what is happening. Although the frequent camera shifts are initially difficult to stomach, they actually work out quite well. We don’t really NEED to see everything that is going on in order to understand the frenetic actions on screen. The topsy-turvy camera is a major part of the movie, although it thankfully gets toned down a bit as the film progresses.

During this critical early scene, the music is undeniably fierce. Thomas Bangalter’s (one half of Daft Punk) score is tense, and often terrifying in its own right. His music truly adds to the frantic pace during the early-goings. He definitely encapsulated the raw experience on screen, although it is not what I would expect from one half of the electronic duo who created “One More Time.”

By the time the infamous rape scene happens – about halfway through the movie – it is beyond difficult to watch. All of that shaky camerawork I mentioned earlier is gone during this scene. Instead, the camera sits stationary while we are forced to watch Alex get raped for nine straight minutes. It is absolutely disgusting, and to call it “fucked up” is an understatement.

Irréversible [2002]

Still, even with the obscene violence and sheer brutality, Irréversible remains a fascinating film. The brilliant reverse storytelling makes you think about the events from a different perspective. The soundtrack is menacing and perfect for the actions on screen. And the camera work initially seems out of control, but somehow it just works. Kudos to Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel for having the cojones to go through with something like this.

This is not a movie for everyone, and there is no doubt that this is a cruel and punishing 90 minutes. There are no boundaries here, which makes for an unpleasant, yet stimulating experience.

Simply put, Irreversible is a stunning film that just does not hold back.


2 thoughts on “Movie Review: Irréversible [2002]

  1. The Vern says:

    Great review. This movie has haunted my mind ever since I saw it. . As messed up as the rape scene was. I think it would have been an injustice to edit that scene down. Gaspar Noe wants his audience to feel the same type of pain that the Monica Belluici’s character goes through.

    • Eric says:

      Thank you. I completely agree with your sentiments. This is one of those movies that is just exceptionally well made, but its subject matter makes me hesitate to recommend it to anyone. It’s not something that warrants multiple viewings, that’s for sure.

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