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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 29.81%
Average: 22.12%
Pretty Bad: 6.73%
Total Crap: 10.58%

6 reviews, 68 user ratings

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by Greg Muskewitz

"Re-done as undone."
3 stars

France’s premier misanthrope Gaspar Noé dishes out some “fuckin’ B-movie revenge shit.”

Told, or shown, via the gimmick of Memento, Irréversible begins at the end, working its way backwards in chunks or segments of about 16-minutes each. The end starts with (after the reverse-order credits) a rush of noise, people being escorted or gurney-ed out of a gay felch club called The Rectum. Talk is overheard about some sort of revenge being fulfilled, leaving us to wonder what revenge? Jump back (trying to ignore the aimless twisting and turning, flipping and somersaulting of the hand-held camera) and two guys are on a manhunt for some guy named La Tenia in The Rectum, a dark and filthy club with skin-crawlingly droning music. They are there to avenge the beating of their androgynously-named friend Alex. A guy is found (is he the right one? no matter) and after one of the guys has his arm twisted up the wrong way and broken, the second guy proceeds to bash in the face of who they think is La Tenia, until the entire face has caved in from the pummeling. Skip several segments back: the Alex is a woman, wheeled away to an ambulance with her face bloodied and probably irreparable. Back again: Alex, leaving a party without her friend and boyfriend, goes into an underground passageway, where she is trapped, then raped for 11-minutes by La Tenia, and the scene is punctuated by her face being repeatedly slammed into the ground. (This scene, done mostly in one shot much like many of the others, is the only one in which the camera actually stays still to make its composition.) All of this takes place within the first 30 or so minutes, and I could go further back into the events of the day, but it mostly consists of talk between the two guys, the two guys and Alex, or Alex and her ex-boyfriend — the “now-a-friend” — or Alex and her current boyfriend. But that there identifies the biggest issue with telling this movie in reverse. First of all, the movie’s graphic and very realistic depiction of violence is what has gained it so much attention. Any audience going in knows that. Depending on what and how much you know will alter your level of what and when to expect it. Once the details have been ironed out and you know all the whos, whats, whens, wheres, whys, etc., at that point in the movie, the arc has already been reached and anything that follows is merely anticlimactic. (Ignoring, of course, the small revelation at the very beginning.) That this could have been avoided if told in proper order — building tension in the sense of “what’s going to happen next” instead of “what happened before” — would help gain the viewer’s full attentiveness and commitment to the movie in whole. There are other things, too, that work against the movie; the overly frenzied and exacerbated camerawork, the often undistinguishable image, the inability to determine to a large extent of what all is going on. Noé did the same for disturbing images, graphic storytelling, despicable characters and warped psychology in his last feature, in the clean and smooth look of I Stand Alone. A good-looking product can be just as disgusting and disturbing — if not more so — than a dirty-looking dirty project. There are certainly things within this one that deserve attention; the choreography of the violence, the realism, the social contexts. They get an immediate reaction, but Noé’s motivation is only of the reaction from the audience and not why. It helps to tell a story with or of violence, not to let the violence tell it. Once the gore of fire extinguisher beat-down and the paralysis of the one-take rape scene are over, so is the tension in what else is to come next (or come before). Noé has gotten what he wanted (or thinks he wants) and the audience has seen what they came for. The rest of the wind-down is strictly extraneous time on the clock. With real-life couple Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel, and Albert Dupontel.

[See it if you must.]

link directly to this review at
originally posted: 04/20/04 07:24:53
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2003 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2003 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

1/02/19 Tina Klaeger Watching the anal-rape scene made me want to submit to anal sex with my boyfriend. 5 stars
8/26/18 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
10/05/17 Leslie Creeper "Irreversible" has an anal-rape scene with Monica Bellucci that makes me so wet. 5 stars
8/14/16 Muncus Difficult to watch at time but will sear a place into your memory like A Clockwork orange. 5 stars
5/06/15 stanley welles a powerful, electrifying work 4 stars
8/24/13 guts disagree with the 'our responses' the shit and we see the shit? thats not cinema 2 stars
7/17/13 Langano Pointless 2 stars
5/02/12 Marty really good. Acting and direction mostly great. Direction does get annoying. good story 4 stars
9/11/11 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
6/14/11 mr.mike Did not work for me. 3 stars
11/04/10 Coma Hard to watch, but beautifully shot and well-crafted. 5 stars
10/29/10 Karamashi Harrowing, hard to watch but good. Not enjoyable in the least bit. 4 stars
2/08/10 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
7/01/09 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
4/08/08 Jack Sommersby Like "Kids", it's amoral and nihilistic to the nth degree. 1 stars
9/29/07 saurs What about the Cassel character wanting anal sex and spitting in Bellucci's face? 2 stars
8/22/07 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
1/26/07 Artist Bill 2 yrs later it still shocks me to think of you 5 stars
12/08/06 llaith Cinima ultimately is about invoking a response in the viewer. This does. Worthwhile. 5 stars
9/09/06 Diane Flinn I have to admit that, even as a woman, I found the anal rape of the young woman so erotic. 5 stars
9/05/06 Shaw This is a disguisting movie i dunno what the the fuk is wrong with the director 1 stars
11/01/05 Indrid Cold Dark, arty, baffling, distrubing. Worth a look if you're in the mood. 4 stars
10/03/05 malcolm gratuitous, but interesting, only for the most jaded of film fans 3 stars
9/26/05 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
2/05/05 Elaine Bradley I found Monica Bellucci's anal rape scene a must-see cinematic event. 5 stars
12/04/04 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
8/27/04 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
5/20/04 tatum Once again, Euros show Americans how to make flicks you'll remember, not "Shrek"! 4 stars
4/24/04 eddie moyer it was shocking and confusing at the start but overall i enjoyed it 4 stars
3/29/04 Ronaldo there was said, this film should be very violent... in my opinion it wasn't violent enough. 4 stars
2/04/04 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
1/25/04 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
1/12/04 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
11/14/03 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
10/28/03 joe m terrifying, astounding, mindblowing & thought-provoking 5 stars
10/26/03 Axel Chocking and disgusting, yet very well made 2 stars
9/18/03 John40 Best movie so far this year. 5 stars
9/16/03 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
8/10/03 Rocky Masterfully executed, most intense rape/face bashing scenes ever, NOT a date flick. 4 stars
6/28/03 Sugarfoot Shocking, almost as disturbing as Last House On The Left... 5 stars
6/20/03 Poo Best movie ever 5 stars
6/07/03 Lisa Millar Stunning! Best movie I have seen all year- electric performances all round. 5 stars
5/12/03 Mitsaso Homophobic??U can see Noe jerking off in "Rectum"!!! 5 stars
4/03/03 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
3/13/03 adamndirtyape Unbelievable crap. 1 stars
3/13/03 Number 655321 Hot steamin' bowl of shite...Abusive and condescending tripe. 1 stars
3/13/03 mr. Pink Very disturbing, brilliant camerawork, deeply unsettling, great acting....Powerful!!! 5 stars
3/07/03 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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