“Time destroys everything”Review by Lewis Goodall
There seems to be a theme with Gasper Noe’s film that I’ve cottoned onto with just the two films of his I’ve seen. The other was ‘Climax’ which i reviewed here and this theme is, the films are horrifically disturbing but they are so creative and well made that I can’t take me eyes off the screen, which I really wanted to do during one scene in this film as it was one of THE most disturbing scenes in a film I’ve ever seen, and I’ve recently watched Cardi B act in ‘Hustlers‘ which was somehow less disturbing than this.
Irreversible is the traumatic story that unfolds over the course of one night In Paris. Showing the events in reverse order, we find that Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and his friend, Pierre (Albert Dupontel) are on a revenge trip to find the man that brutally raped and beat Marcus’ girlfriend, Alex (Monica Belluci).
As the film is shown in reverse order, we start with the end of the night where Marcus is being taken out of a gay sex club in a stretcher with a broken arm and Pierre being arrested. We discovered that the club is appropriately called ‘The Rectum’, I presume it’s called this as by nature of the clientele there a lot of men going in and out of the backdoor. Instantly we are sent into a vertigo inducing trance with the camera movement as it glides through the air like a fly, teasing the viewer with shots of what is going on in the environment. It follows Marcus’ through the club as he looks for the man who raped Alex, but as it follows him it starts to show his surroundings slowly, uncovering what a dodgy place they are currently in. Defitnely the sort of club that a rapist would hang out in.
From there as Marcus traverses the men asking him to fist them, he finally comes across the man himself to which him and Pierre proceed to bash his skull in with a fire extinguisher. I dont feel this is spoilers as this happens within the first 10 minutes of the film as the film is reversed. I guess a pretty obvious disclaimer at this point is that this film is very disturbing with its subject and visuals, with it being French and they love their extremism, they certainly didn’t hold back with showing real sex and someones skull splitting like someone karate chopped a watermelon.
As well as the camera movement being erratic enough to spur on vertigo, we also have our ears treated with music that is supposed to induce nausea due to its low frequency and also strobe lighting, enough to turn an epileptic ward into a break dancing class. The combination of the three is enough to create a very unsettling feeling in your stomach which is on purpose and part of the same idiosyncrasy style that Gasper Noe has. You see this in Climax as well where the uncomfortable visuals are suppose to induce anxiety in the viewer and I’ll tell you now… it works.
As the films goes on you start to discover more and more as to how the events of the night unfolding and ending up with them in the position they were in at the beginning. We discover more about the sort of person that Marcus and Pierre are and the extent of what they would do to find out who committed the dastardly deed. I’ve already mentioned that this film doesn’t hold back on what is shown in the film, we see penis, we see vagina, we see people being killed so theres no way that they would skimp out on showing you the scene in which the rape takes place. This is what I was referring to before where it has one of the most disturbing scenes in a film ever as this scene certainly doesn’t hold back. I timed the scene and it lasts for 10 minutes without any cuts, it’s one single shot of a pretty brutal scene so it doesn’t allow you to look away for one moment while it takes place. The entire time I was watching this scene I felt dirty because the whole scene felt so real, with a major credit to the acting in this scene as its horrific, it is genuinely horrific so I strongly suggest if you’re planning on watching this film then definitely don’t watch it with a dog in the room, dogs are innocent creatures and shouldn’t be subject to this mature content. Show your kids however, show them the gritty reality of this world.
On a technical stand point this film is incredible and damn right impressive. Same with Climax where most of the film is one continuous shot and it’s the same with irreversible. The whole film is shown seamlessly with cleverly hidden cuts to keep the flow of the night going. Having the actors do pages of dialogue at a time, its incredibly impressive how the scenes play out for so long at a time. It really keeps your eyes glued to the screen and doesn’t let you rest for one moment until the end credits roll. In general I feel that Gasper Noe is just an incredibly talented director to be able to catch such fantastic but utterly disturbing visuals while making everything flow like water. A way to make his films into an analogy would be to say his films are like a sheet of silk covered in blood.
It’s hard to me to look at this film overall as I cannot fault anything about how it was made and acted because in terms of all that, its impeccable and makes the story feel real. There was a particular scene in which I felt the dialogue was tedious and unneeded to which I felt it dragged on for too long, surprisingly this wasn’t the rape scene. There was just some moments like that which did drag a bit and felt very unneeded in order to just add more shock factor to the film when it really doesn’t need it. Especially considering events that happen In the films that already make it shocking. I would only be able to recommend this to people who are hard core lovers of films and appreciate the art form rather than just wanting an easy story to plod along with. Basically if you like the new Netflix film ‘Tall Girl’ or anything like that then this definitely isnt the film for you. I would however consider this film essential as it’s just overly impressive, amazing directing and superb acting with a story that has a lot of bite. Something i was worried about was how it was going to end as technically i could’ve just going until the characters birth. Overly the end could’ve broken the experience but it didn’t which i was happily surprised with. Also Jonathon Ross liked it, they used a quote from him on the box which I found very entertaining.