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.