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Director: Gaspar Noe; Stars: Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel; Release Date: August 05, 2003

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It's OK to look away.

  • Feb 15, 2011
***1/2 out of ****

Some of the best films tempt you to look away. French director Gaspar Noe has made a film which does indeed want you to look away, but only if you want to. It isn't forcing you to not watch; and then again it's not forcing you into sticking around. But if you can stick around, "Irreversible" is one of the most disturbing though-provoking films you may ever see; graphic in its depictions of violence and rape, but powerful in its ability to provoke. I do not think of it as a masterpiece; but I do think "Irreversible" is an artistic and very, very well-made film. But before you say, "Hey, I want to see this based on your recommendation", I will warn you; this is one of the most graphic films probably ever filmed. It wants to be ugly in its violence and therefore Noe delivers some seriously extreme stuff. But he's a risk-taker; and he has made a risky movie. There are always some endearing qualities about art-house films; mostly because they dare to be different through content, style, and story-telling. "Irreversible" is a true art-house film; a visually intoxicating, incredibly stylistic film told in a reverse-chronological narrative. This is a film unlike any you've ever seen; and that is a reason to see it. The reverse-chronological aspect isn't exactly original, but the story elements are what make Noe's film as unforgettable as it is. I told myself that I would address any criticisms regarding this film, and I think now I will. People have called "Irreversible" pornographic and pretentious. This film is neither. If you want pretentious, see Guy Ritchie's "Revolver". If you want pornographic, see "Hostel". It's very hard to imagine that "Irreversible" was made so that some serious sick, messed up people could get pleasure out of it. It's a film set out to provoke, and make you think about where it stands morally. It's pretty good as high art; and I respect Noe's vision and what he has done here. But most of you will not like "Irreversible". But if you can look past the graphic content, then you will find an art film; a powerful and emotional acid trip that shall take you where few filmmakers have gone before. For me, it's something new, fresh, and inventive. But to others; it's ugly and nigh unwatchable. Again, do not come to me and criticize me for liking this film. You have nobody to blame but yourself for watching this film, and for starters, I didn't even recommend the film. And even though I liked it so much, I never will. This is because I, like everyone, must be careful with films this intense. But if you know that you can handle it, this one is a winner. One of 2002's best, I believe. Think about what you have seen after you watch this film. Do not regard the film as exploitation. Pornography has no morality or meaning. "Irreversible" is completely moral, and therefore, it is not pornography.

"Irreversible" tells a story of rape and revenge in a reverse-chronological narrative. This means that the film begins with the revenge and the rape; therefore ending with a sense of tranquility. But this film is never tranquil; it is designed to shake you up long after you have witnessed the 9-minute rape scene and the equally as brutal scene taking place in a gay S&M club. But after these scenes, you may find that the film is more watchable. But if this film is ever unwatchable, it's not only for the content. The way "Irreversible" is shot creates a sense of nearly overwhelming unease, and you may throw up due to motion sickness. But hey; that's art. And that's what "Irreversible" wants to be. It's been a long, long time since a film has treated the subject of rape with such realism and care. Sure, the rape is shown in graphic detail. But cutting this scene out would have taken away from "Irreversible" and its emotional power. What does rape do to the person who has been violated? What does it do to those aquainted with the victim? This film lingers upon those questions and never quite answers them. Perhaps it gives the friends of Alex, the one who was raped, a thirst for bloody vengeance. The first act is them raiding through the club to find the rapist; and they intend on showing the bastard no remorse. One of them beats a man's head to a bloody pulp; thinking he is the rapist. We soon learn that he is not. Anger and revenge make people mad and crazy; and this film depicts vengeance for what it is. "Irreversible" is moral since it shows all the violence before the calmer stuff; and I kind of like how Noe seems to want to get things over with. He wants us to squirm obviously, but I kind of admire his artistic craft. "Irreversible" is a near-perfect film that carries with it many ideas of how to film something and how to treat a horrific subject such as rape with intensive care. Was the film entertaining? Well, it depends on how you define entertainment. All I know is that I really liked the film, and it's one of the most graphic but powerful films ever made. That's what I love about it.

Anyone who wanted to take part in a film this intense is a risk-taker. I am surprised that Monica Bellucci would want to take part in such a graphic rape scene, yet here we are. Even though the scene is so graphic and emotionally gripping; Bellucci's performance is incredible. She plays a convincing victim that doesn't quite care how she dresses or acts. Some people think that, judging by the revealing dress she wears, she is almost inviting the rape. But is she really? I don't think so. That was not the intent, but then again, what was when you're wearing clothing that takes away from the genuine sexiness that it implies and makes you look a little too open for violation. Vincent Cassel's performance is also fairly good, and in the emotional scenes, he was very believable. Albert Dupontel almost always accompanies Cassel in what are some of the best scenes in the film, and Jo Prestia plays a pretty damn creepy and convincing rapist. These are not great performances; they are simply powerful ones. The film itself is enough to put off any crush a sane human being would have on Bellucci, but then again it lets you see her in all new light. Food for thought.

Some of the best films don't tell their stories in a "happy" way. "Irreversible" is about rape; and that should be all you need to know when it comes to deciding whether you want to watch it or not. I have seen and heard people treat rape as a humorous sort of thing. Our society that we live in almost promotes it as a comic object (I'm sure a couple episodes of "Family Guy" have used it as humor). But then you see a film such as "Irreversible"; which shows rape and violence in such graphic detail that you forget there was even humor involved. I know why Gaspar Noe made this film, and his intent was to show that rape still happens; it always has. He wants to show what happens in the darkest corners of the earth, and he wants us to squirm. But would we squirm if we were to witness a rape in real life? Yes, we would. And that's exactly why people think it's unnecessary to show what "Irreversible" shows on-film. You don't need to film certain things, but this film, in my opinion, needed to be made. It also needs to be seen; but perhaps only by those who can appreciate it for its artistic merit. By artistic merit, I of course mean Noe's visual gifts. Gaspar Noe is somewhat of a sensualist, and seems to think that sex can be art. He has proven himself correct in his assumption; but some just won't agree. He shoots his film in ways that makes it nauseating and hard to watch; with shaky camera work and flashing lights galore. It's an epileptic's nightmare; but for me, it's seductive brilliance. This film is like a bad car crash, and you can't look away. Or perhaps you can, but that's not my point. What I really mean to say is that "Irreversible" is disturbing, but visually impressive. There are indeed many reasons to why I liked it so much, one of them being because Noe is a visual master, and I hope to see more out of him soon.

"Irreversible" is not, perhaps, a masterpiece of cinema. But I really liked it; at least for the graphic but powerful film that it was. Not everyone will like it; quite in fact, most will despise it. Most people think its way too explicit to be art, but then again they forget that there is indeed such thing as "grotesque art". Noe seems to believe that you can make art out of just about anything, and with "Irreversible", he has made art. The film exists, whether you like it or not. And for some reason, there's something I like about that fact. Yet, "Irreversible" is not careless. Nor is it pretentious and pathetic. I really enjoyed seeing this work of art unfold, and I recommend it to anyone who can stomach it. It is, again, high art. It's dark, relentless, and furiously paced. But that's what I love about it; and this film is unforgettable not for what it shows; but for the humanity involved. This film is sane and human; not an exercise in pretense and brutality. You can hate it for its content, but none the less, I admire "Irreversible". Take it as you will.

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February 23, 2011
Excellent review once more
February 25, 2011
More Irreversible reviews
review by . May 28, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Irreversible Damage
Perhaps one of the most shocking films I've seen in years, I'm having a difficult time placing a star rating on this review but let me give you some facts if nothing else.      Monica Belluci is one of the most beautiful actresses in the business & I hated watching her gruesome rape scene (even though this isn't the most graphic scene in the film.) This montage alone was perhaps one of the most scary rape scenes since Baise Moi or I Spit On …
review by . May 18, 2008
This movie is a very unusual and dark revenge story.     It goes backwards. If you liked Memento, you'll like the use of reverse chronology in this movie. Much like Memento, the reverse order of events is used to convey a message. The movie is a wild ride where I was constantly trying to catch up and at the end felt that they tied it all up well. If you watch it a couple times, you'll notice subtle hints and plot elements happening in the corners of the screen.    The …
review by . January 16, 2006
Pros: Well scripted, well acted.     Cons: Portions of the film are very dark.     The Bottom Line: In the end I am glad I finally watched Irreversible because the story was well scripted, and the movie well acted.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. Irreversible first came to my attention while reading the review for another movie. Now I have long been a fan of the beautiful, talented, and under-rated …
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Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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About this movie


After what would normally be the end credits (which run backwards), IRREVERSIBLE begins with a heated hunt through a gay S&M club. It is a chaotic sequence shot from a wildly spiraling camera seamlessly edited together to appear as one single shot and culminating in one of the most violent murders ever portrayed on celluloid. Following this crescendo, Gaspar Noe's (I STAND ALONE) film uses a reverse narrative structure similar to MEMENTO through which the audience learns the motivations for the murder and the relationships of three parties directly involved, the beautiful Alex (Monica Bellucci) and two men who adore her (Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel). The frenzied style of the opening gives way to increasingly static camera work throughout leading to an idyllic final shot of Alex, who the audience has long known is a doomed woman, set to Beethoven and alive with color and youthful innocence otherwise absent from this bleak urban nightmare. The film disregards conventional editing by ending each sce...
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Director: Gaspar Noé
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 2003, January 1, 2002
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Screen Writer: Gaspar Noé
Runtime: 1hr 39min
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