Irreversible Gaspar Noé

Irreversible Gaspar Noé
Irreversible sent out shockwaves when it was released last year. Some filmgoers walked out. Others praised it. All agree it’s a cruel, hard movie. But Irreversible is worth seeing.

This is a French rape and revenge film told backwards like Memento. It opens with Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) hunting down a man named Le Tenia in a gay S&M club. In a horrifying moment, Pierre pummels the face of Le Tenia’s buddy with a fire extinguisher. Working backwards, we see Marcus and Pierre searching for a gay club called the Rectum. Later, they learn of a rape, and later still that the victim was Marcus’s girlfriend, Alex (Monica Belluci of Matrix Reloaded). Now we understand the men’s vile behaviour. Next, we endure Alex’s rape. Until now the camera has been fluttering across the screen like a bird. Here, Noé keeps his camera steady at ground level so that we identify with Alex, not the rapist. The rape is unwatchable, but the scene demonstrates the inherent violence. Belluci deserves credit for her brave performance (watch her hands, listen to her voice). Then the film relaxes. Alex, Marcus and Pierre attend a house party. Alex fights with Marcus and leaves. We shudder over their fate. "Time destroys everything," reads the film’s coda, but Irreversible is really about ordinary men turning into animals.

Critics who dismissed Irreversible as pornography missed the point. Overall, this is a good DVD package. Noé’s insightful commentary and a detailed documentary reveal the film’s many special effects. The short deleted scene is minor however, as are the two music videos. Inexplicably, a short interview of Noé is only in French. Plus: trailers, more. (Alliance Atlantis)