Aneesh Chaganty

Movie #64 Irreversible

In Uncategorized on November 26, 2010 at 12:10 AM

Movie #64 Irreversible

(2002, France, d. Gaspar Noé)

One of the better films I’ve seen in my MAD Challenge, Irreversible is a highly disturbing account of vengeance, rape, and love (in that order). More affecting in its brutality and extreme content, this film is not for the weak of heart. Hell, it’s not for anyone who even wants to just sit back and watch a movie. If you can handle it, watch it. In terms of graphic content, this is about three times as bad as Man Bites Dog, and you can just read the language I used to describe that film. It contains probably the most brutal rape I’ve ever seen on film and a few scenes of the most harrowing violence, but again, if you want to watch it, I recommend it, and this is why: Irreversible is an example of filmmaking at its creative best. Tonally and thematically, every single aspect of the film corresponds, which is rare in cinema these days. The structure of the film – similar to Christopher Nolan’s Memento – actually suggests, despite the film’s content – a very moral attitude to the film, to borrow a few sentiments from Roger Ebert. According to Ebert, by presenting the vengeance before the acts that inspire it, we are forced to process the vengeance first, and therefore think more deeply about its implications. Oh, and another reason to watch it: It consists of about 13 scenes – which are presented as 13 single takes. I found out later that it’s not, but the result is still seamless. Finally, I have to mention the performances. Monica Bellucci is a shoe-in, particularly for what she had to go through in that scene, but I think it’s Vincent Cassel who steals the show. The guy proves once again he can play just about anyone.

  1. I usually agree with what you have to say about movies, but I have to disagree with this one.

    First of all, I come to this movie as someone who has been raped. I found the use of violence (not just in the rape scene) as distasteful and pointless and completely disrespectful to all women that have been victim to physical and sexual harm. Presenting the ugly is a horrible way to try to make one realize and be thankful for the beautiful.

    I’m not someone who looks for movies to be all rainbows and sunshine, but I don’t think grit for the sake of art is what makes a good movie. Even if someone “can handle” watching a rape scene, I don’t see the point of doing it. Granted, had I known the plot of this movie at all before seeing it, I probably wouldn’t have

    I guess all I’m trying to say is that it came off to me as “make a big mess so that everyone will think it’s art” and did not respect at all the people that have to go though horrible things in real life

  2. Hi!

    Thank you so much for your feedback. It’s always a nice treat to see that someone is critically responding to my thoughts and even reading my little blog, so thank you so much for that!

    In response to you, I would first like to say that I hope it did not seem as if I treat rape as any sort of light manner and whatnot. If it seemed I was trivializing the matter, please forgive me as that was totally not the intent.

    It seems what you have the most problem with in terms of this film is the rape scene. The question you have to ask yourself is: Had the rape scene been toned down to a more “acceptable” level, what would you have taken out of the movie? What was the point of the film to you? Was it trying to show how life is beautiful? Or was it trying to depict the delicacy of life, or the fragility of it? Was it showing how “time destroys everything”? Or was it trying to say how no life can ever be one’s own? That no matter how hard we try, we will always be sharing each other – whether that merits positive, neutral, or negative consequences.

    I think the point of the rape scene was exactly not to trivialize – to show it in a non-sensational or brief or stylized fashion. In that case, I think the rape would be effective. However the other side of the argument is that it did trivialize it by depicting it sensationally and in an unnaturally long manner.

    Therefore it all comes down to this: If it’s trivial, then it failed to respond to any of the thematic issues presented above and can be treated as unnecessarily brutal and amateurish – a non-art. But if it’s not, no matter how harsh or brutal reality is, it just might be art.

    Thanks for reading.


  3. […] previous film Irreversible is an incredibly taut film, and perhaps one of the best films I’ve reviewed in the past year. […]

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