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Overall Rating
3.63

Awesome30.77%
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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Irreversible
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by Brian McKay

"Despite the gut-wrenching gimmickry, IRREVERSIBLE is almost Irredeemable"
3 stars

Remember when THE BLAIR WITCH PROJECT first came out, and theaters were issuing warnings to their patrons about the film causing motion sickness? I scoffed at those people, thinking, "What kind of pansy-ass gets sick just from watching a movie?". But after being put through the wringer by Noe Gaspar's IRREVERSIBLE, I am now forced to stand and be counted as a Pansy.

If the incredibly graphic scenes of a man getting his face smashed with a fire extinguisher until it's a wet concave pulp, or of Monica Belluci being subjected to a brutal anal rape and an even more vicious beating don't have you feeling like you want to puke into your popcorn bowl, then the insane camera work will. Gaspar was apparently in the thrall of having discovered a new toy when he filmed IRREVERSIBLE, since he over-indulgently subjects the viewer to several long segments where the camera swings about dizzyingly in all directions. It makes one wonder if Gaspar didn't just take a crackhead, give him a camera, and then rolled him down the street inside a gyroscope. And this trick isn't just used a few times or briefly to denote segues, oh no. It pops up repeatedly and often goes on for several minutes. It's enough to make even those with the most ironclad stomachs feel lightheaded and a touch nauseous (and it's no picnic when you're half-baked, either).

There, you've been warned.

Succinctly put, Irreversible is a very basic rape-revenge drama that tries to be more clever than it really is by telling the story backward. First we see the closing credits (rolled backward of course), followed by the revenge. The rapist in question has his face worked on like a watermelon at a Gallagher concert by Pierre (Albert Dupontel), the ex-husband of victim Alex (Monica Belluci). It becomes ironic that Pierre does the sledge-o-matic on the face of the rapist known only as "La Tenia" (Jo Prestia), since throughout the rest of the film we see that Pierre has been reluctantly dragged along on the quest for revenge by Alex's current boyfriend, Marcus (Vincent Cassel).

After this initially brutal scene, we are taken backward (or forward) to the previous events of the evening. We see that the three characters remain friends, even though Marcus "stole" Alex from Pierre a few years earlier, and the easygoing and good-natured Pierre is obviously still jealous over it (and really, if someone "stole" a woman who looked like Monica Belluci from me, I'd kill the son of a bitch!). However, when the three of them go to a party, Alex and Marcus get into an argument, and she leaves early. When she unwisely decides to use an underground tunnel to get across a traffic-filled boulevard, she has the misfortune of running into La Tenia, a gay pimp who is beating on one of his "girls". Even without the foreknowledge of what has happened, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that Gorgeous woman + skimpy party dress + long, dark tunnel = recipe for disaster. What follows is a very long, grueling single-take scene of Alex being raped and beaten into a coma. This has got to be the most fucked-up extended rape scene since 1978's I Spit on Your Grave.

And what are we treated to after that? A scene of Alex and Marcus lounging about naked and making lover's small talk before they get ready for the party. And while having Monica Belluci hanging out in her birthday suit is never a bad thing, the foreknowledge (or is it hindsight?) that her character is about to be brutally, perhaps even fatally raped, is a definite nude scene buzzkill.

Hard to watch, but even harder to look away from, Irreversible stumbles along the fine line between brilliant filmmaking and art-wanker pretentiousness. The gimmicky camera work may be fresh and hypnotic at first, but it quickly becomes overused and self-indulgent. And while the fate of poor Alex is certainly hard to sit through, it also seems emotionally disconnected. We don't really know anything about Alex leading up to the rape scene, and even afterward she is a barely fleshed-out character, as are the two men in her life. Therefore, the rape scene, as with the face-smashing scene, become detached sequences of violence that seem to exist just for the sake of being nasty and stirring up controversy. And while the comparisons to Memento are nearly unavoidable, there's no big mystery or clever twists here. After the initial confusion of the first few scenes, the rest of the film unfolds as predictably as clockwork. Perhaps the fault lies with the lack of a script, since the film was supposedly shot with only a brief outline and all lines were improvised. Improvisational filmmaking is a tricky business though, and along with all the other bells and whistles on this project, it just ends up feeling like another gimmick. Still, it's just clever and jarring enough to keep its hooks in you until the final scene, but while it may manage to keep you watching to the bittersweet end, only the most ardent Gaspar acolyte, art-haus wanker, or fan of Monica Belluci naked would ever think about going back for seconds.

Of course, some may rank IRREVERSIBLE's achievements in a loftier plane. At times, it is almost feels like it could be a deeper exploration of the irreversible effects of tragedy, or the inescapable nature of fate. But then the camera goes all wonky again and it turns into just another pretentious filmmaker's experiment.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=6922&reviewer=258
originally posted: 08/25/03 05:12:49
[printer] printer-friendly format  
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' part.show the shit and we see the shit? thats not cinema 2 stars
7/27/13 PAUL SHORTT WELL MADE BUT HARROWINGLY UGLY AND UNPLEASANT 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 it..rocks 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
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  07-Mar-2003 (NR)

UK
  N/A

Australia
  12-Feb-2004


Directed by
  Gaspar No

Written by
  Gaspar No

Cast
  Monica Bellucci
  Vincent Cassel
  Albert Dupontel
  Philippe Nahon
  Jo Prestia
  Stephanie Drouot



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