“You want me to say it? Time destroys everything”: ‘Irreversible’ Review
For controversial films month, Gaspar Noe’s Irreversible ranks among the most controversial and disturbing films ever made. A thriller that is as innovative as it is incredibly tough to watch. Noe’s film, which debuted in competition at the prestigious Cannes Film Festival in 2002, tells the story of two friends who go on a revenge journey across the streets of Paris. After discovering that his girlfriend, Alex (played in a truly fearless and utterly incredible performance by Monica Bellucci) has been brutally assaulted, Marcus (Vincent Cassell) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) set out to find out the people responsible.
One of the things that differentiate Irreversible from a lot of other psychological horror films is the employment of its non-linear narrative structure. Noe’s film, like Christopher Nolan’s Memento, it is told in reverse. Through this format, Noe lets us experience how far people would go to avenge someone dear to them. In many ways he uses the device to commentate on the nature of humanity, specifically to talk about the idea of time and how we use that time to spend with the people, we love and mainly how fragile that time is.
Irreversible is highly controversial, one of the things that make it so incredibly hard to watch is, aside from its graphic violence and ugly side of humanity is the scene where Alex is brutally raped. This scene, which I couldn’t even watch in its entirety, is not only incredibly graphic and upsetting but it’s sadly just used to motivate Cassell’s character to seek revenge. Noe is known for his unflinching vision in films like Enter the Void, but this scene from Irreversible remains his most aggressive and punishing scene ever filmed.
Irreversible is the kind of unforgettable disturbing film experience, in my opinion, that classifies it as a one and done. Much like Darren Aronofsky’s Requiem for a Dream or Nagisa Oshima’s In the Realm of the Senses, Noe’s Irreversible is a fascinating and incredibly powerful film experience that uses cinema to provoke, but sometimes that escalation reaches a boiling point. Aside from its incredible performances from Cassell and Bellucci, who were apparently married at the time, you can’t help but feel that their intimate scenes have a personal stake in it. I don’t want to give anything away, but there’s a scene towards the end of the film that is an incredible counterpoint to the horrific events that happen at the beginning and middle of the film).
One of the greatest technical achievements from Irreversible is the incredibly disturbing and droning score by Thomas Bangalter (yes, one-half of “Daft Punk”) which creates this looming and unease sound throughout the film that reverberates and gives the entire movie a paranoid and dread inducing feeling.
Irreversible is incredibly tough to watch and ranks as one of the most disturbing films ever made but thanks to the acting and the stunning floating cinematography (shot by Spring Breakers director of photograph Benoit Debie), it’s worth watching but with a caution that it’s not only for the faint of heart but also its an experience that is going to be incredibly upsetting and scarring.