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Worth A Look30.1%
Just Average: 22.33%
Pretty Crappy: 6.8%
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6 reviews, 67 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"As the title suggests, the process of seeing this movie is permanent."
4 stars

Gaspar Noé, France’s Argentine-born auteur provocateur, shoots himself in the foot with “Irreversible,” a film whose plusses will be outweighed in many viewers’ minds by the distasteful minuses.

There is much to admire, especially from a structural standpoint. It is told with the scenes in reverse order, beginning with a man being beaten to death for having raped a woman, then going back to the rape, and then to the events preceding it. Ironies emerge this way that would not be apparent if the story were straightforward. Like “Memento” (2001), the other recent film told backwards, “Irreversible” features characters behaving tragically because they are unable to know, as we are, what is going to happen next.

Additionally, each scene is shot in one continuous take, with no cutting away, giving us a fly-on-the-wall perspective of the proceedings. The events seem more real and certainly more dramatic this way; it is also worth noting how difficult it is to film a story in this manner, if only for the fact that if an actor screws up, you have to start all over again.

The camera is in constant motion during the first several minutes of the film, bobbing up and down in a way that is liable to cause motion sickness in all but the most iron-gutted viewers. It is extremely disorienting, which is perfect for a film like this, though you have to wonder whether achieving a dubious goal such as making an audience sick is an admirable achievement.

And then the action begins. Already, “Irreversible” has two infamous parts, scenes that have caused scores of jaded, artsy patrons at Cannes and Sundance to walk out of the theater.

First (chronologically last) is in an S&M club, where a man’s arm is broken, followed by another man being smashed in the face repeatedly with a fire extinguisher. (Despite the setting, you may be assured neither victim finds pleasure in the violence.) Both of the attacks are accompanied by sickeningly realistic sound and visual effects; Noé was able to make it look right without cutting away by digitally inserting the appropriate blood and carnage in post-production.

Later in the film, we see a brutal rape, followed by a savage kick-in-the-face beating. The entire scene lasts about nine minutes, during which, I should remind you, there is no cutting away, no diverting of the camera’s eye. In fact, at one point, the camera swoops down and around as if to get a better look (though I’m told this was actually to prevent it being obvious that the “cement” floor is soft and padded for the sake of the actress).

The film offers much to ponder about the nature of fate, the futility of revenge and the fragility of life, and the acting throughout is spectacular. Monica Bellucci is completely fearless as Alex, the rape victim. Her boyfriend, Marcus, is Vincent Cassel, her real-life husband, his character fiercely devoted to avenging hers. His friend (and her former lover) is played with understated passion and humor by Albert Dupontel. The rapist, La Tenia (Jo Prestia), a gay pimp, is as vile as you might expect a man in his position to be.

But then there is the violence, and the sexual violence. Is it justified in being as realistic and horrific as it is? In my opinion, no. The objectives of the film could have been achieved through less graphic means -- unless the objectives were to be shocking and offputting, in which case obviously it had to be done this way.

I’m being facetious, but what hangs in the back of my mind is that maybe Noé’s goal really was to be controversial, and I have never been a fan of controversy just for controversy’s sake. Note his odd finale, where the screen becomes a vivid, bright strobe light for what feels like a very long period of time. OK, Noé, we get it: You’re weird. Tell your story -- you’ve got a lot to say -- and leave the shock tactics to the pornographers.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=6922&reviewer=247
originally posted: 07/04/03 04:14:16
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

8/25/18 Jenna Chula I saw this film when I was a 14-year-old girl, and the rape scene made me want to try anal. 5 stars
10/04/17 Leslie Creeper "Irreversible" has an anal-rape scene with Monica Bellucci that makes me so wet. 5 stars
8/13/16 Muncus Difficult to watch at time but will sear a place into your memory like A Clockwork orange. 5 stars
5/05/15 stanley welles a powerful, electrifying work 4 stars
8/23/13 guts disagree with the 'our responses' part.show the shit and we see the shit? thats not cinema 2 stars
7/16/13 Langano Pointless 2 stars
5/01/12 Marty really good. Acting and direction mostly great. Direction does get annoying. good story 4 stars
9/10/11 Peep Certainly well-crafted, compelling cinema for an older set 4 stars
7/05/11 Sudaca Euro show americans??? Noe is argentinian hence american. 3 stars
6/13/11 mr.mike Did not work for me. 3 stars
11/03/10 Coma Hard to watch, but beautifully shot and well-crafted. 5 stars
10/28/10 Karamashi Harrowing, hard to watch but good. Not enjoyable in the least bit. 4 stars
2/07/10 Dean m The whole film turns gay men into the worst embodiment of male sexuality... 3 stars
7/28/09 JW Noe means "No" 1 stars
6/30/09 ms misunderstood tragic story, very disturbing, monica bellucci, such a brave, great actress 4 stars
2/04/09 CineNatoning Who doesn't love this movie with all their heart? Shoulda won the Palm d'Or. 5 stars
4/09/08 Loz pierre did not kill le tenia, it was the other man who tried to rape marcus. look closely. 4 stars
4/07/08 Jack Sommersby Like "Kids", it's amoral and nihilistic to the nth degree. 1 stars
9/28/07 saurs What about the Cassel character wanting anal sex and spitting in Bellucci's face? 2 stars
8/21/07 Kim this film made me disgusted and thrilled to still be alive! it's just SO gut-wrenching... 4 stars
6/01/07 Carls Rating irrelevent. Credit due to brave acting but this isn't art. Ms Flinn, you're sick. 1 stars
5/21/07 sunny realistic work.powerfull.successful because it delivers the message that it wants to delive 4 stars
1/25/07 Artist Bill 2 yrs later it still shocks me to think of it..rocks you 5 stars
12/07/06 llaith Cinima ultimately is about invoking a response in the viewer. This does. Worthwhile. 5 stars
9/08/06 Diane Flinn I have to admit that, even as a woman, I found the anal rape of the young woman so erotic. 5 stars
9/04/06 Shaw This is a disguisting movie i dunno what the the fuk is wrong with the director 1 stars
10/31/05 Indrid Cold Dark, arty, baffling, distrubing. Worth a look if you're in the mood. 4 stars
10/02/05 malcolm gratuitous, but interesting, only for the most jaded of film fans 3 stars
9/25/05 a. kurlovs a bit too pretentious, but overall well made 4 stars
7/09/05 Marc Nond Realistic, shocking, disconnected, the last half doesn't quite make up for it.. if u stayed 2 stars
2/04/05 Elaine Bradley I found Monica Bellucci's anal rape scene a must-see cinematic event. 5 stars
12/03/04 K. Sear Memento only more violent. The story is dull, ones attention is kept with flash. 1 stars
11/18/04 Carly Austin It almost feels wrong to rate it highly, but you'll never forget the emotions it stirs. 5 stars
8/26/04 WolfKitty Go watch it and make ur own mind up. 4 stars
8/11/04 Jeffrey Benedict Watch it and learn from it. 5 stars
8/07/04 Povilas Smolskas Disturbing, violent, gory, bloody.. realistic --> 5 stars
6/04/04 H masterpiece 5 stars
5/19/04 tatum Once again, Euros show Americans how to make flicks you'll remember, not "Shrek"! 4 stars
4/23/04 eddie moyer it was shocking and confusing at the start but overall i enjoyed it 4 stars
3/28/04 Ronaldo there was said, this film should be very violent... in my opinion it wasn't violent enough. 4 stars
2/03/04 Mark Mathews Your life will be better off without seeing this film 1 stars
2/02/04 M Ganesh If you are not moved by this film, then you maybe living posthumously. 1 stars
1/24/04 Julia Paschoal A highly disturbing movie and an amazingly well-constructed narrative. 5 stars
1/23/04 george gilbert One of the most brilliant films in 25 years. A masterwork. It tells the truth about t 5 stars
1/21/04 Daniel Hoffman Disturbing, yes, but brilliant. Give it a chance. I challenge you to not be moved. 5 stars
1/11/04 C. Marsh A difficult film to "like" but impossible not to be effected by 4 stars
12/30/03 jenelee i loved monica the rest of the film was pure shock value - no storyline , lame 1 stars
11/13/03 stalker Powerful in its visual appeal and unforgettable performances 5 stars
11/13/03 Jastin Kam worth to tought of your love ones 3 stars
10/27/03 joe m terrifying, astounding, mindblowing & thought-provoking 5 stars
10/25/03 Axel Chocking and disgusting, yet very well made 2 stars
9/17/03 John40 Best movie so far this year. 5 stars
9/15/03 paul f very distrubing, a gem in film making. so much form not much for substance. 4 stars
8/20/03 cory bilicko its effects are "irreversible." 5 stars
8/09/03 Rocky Masterfully executed, most intense rape/face bashing scenes ever, NOT a date flick. 4 stars
6/27/03 Sugarfoot Shocking, almost as disturbing as Last House On The Left... 5 stars
6/20/03 Poo Best movie ever 5 stars
6/06/03 Lisa Millar Stunning! Best movie I have seen all year- electric performances all round. 5 stars
5/11/03 Mitsaso Homophobic??U can see Noe jerking off in "Rectum"!!! 5 stars
4/02/03 J Bennett Damn disturbing. Damn boring. Damn hot Belucci. Damn average overall. 4 stars
3/26/03 Angolmois Limp wristed philistines will hate this movie, but it will stay with them forever. 4 stars
3/15/03 Colin Selby A WASTE OF SPACE 2 stars
3/12/03 adamndirtyape Unbelievable crap. 1 stars
3/12/03 Number 655321 Hot steamin' bowl of shite...Abusive and condescending tripe. 1 stars
3/12/03 mr. Pink Very disturbing, brilliant camerawork, deeply unsettling, great acting....Powerful!!! 5 stars
3/06/03 GD Williamson Witless, trite homophobic shit... oh wait, I mean "intelligent and deep". My mistake. 1 stars
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  07-Mar-2003 (NR)



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