38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on 23 September 2010
A film about male rage? A savage critique of the penis? A warning about the consequences of revenge? Not in my opinion. It's a film about gratification, lust and depravity, among other things. By some standards (conventional standards if you like) Marcus, Pierre and Alex are very depraved - their drinking, public graphic discussion of sex, Marcus' desire to sodomise Alex, and his drug taking, to cite some examples. Tenia takes it to a whole new level though and really tests the boundaries! It represents (to me anyway) a society in a state of total moral decay, from the more acceptable end of the scale (the party for example), through prostitution, the S+M gay club, to outright brutal rape and torture. We are left to make our own sense of the events and the characters. Noé makes no comment or moral judgement. I thought it interesting that the film company created for the production is called '120'. As in the Marquis de Sade's '120 Days of Sodom'? Surely. Anyone who is familiar with the behaviour and literature of the 18th century French Libertines will see this angle of personal pleasure weighed against the suffering of others, albeit the concept is taken to an extreme here. After the rape scene Tenia lays back and says 'awesome', reinforcing that the experience was an ultimate pleasure for him. An archetypal sadist! Sadly, far worse things than this happen on a daily basis throughout the world. This is a sordid modern tale indeed. I've given it 4 stars (how can you give a movie like this a star rating?) because technically it's very well conceived and shot (as other reviewers have discussed very adequately), but I'm not sure I liked it, my initial reaction was revulsion and disgust (I guess that's good!) but that is changing all the time now as I reflect on this movie... There is an argument that it shows the dehumanising tendency of unbridled lust, desire, vengeance and violence but the film could certainly also can be seen as graphic voyeurism. Sade reinvented for the cinema era???
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 26 May 2015
This is the Frankensteins monster of cinema in my opinion. The first time I saw this film I sat with my mouth open (and tears) til the credits ran, not sure whether to have a whiskey or a cleansing shower. For anyone who doesn't know, it features some truly terrible on screen violence which is what helped to create it's reputation but is more crucially the epicentre of the films theme. This story, is a grotesque and yet deeply moving portrayal of the fact that violence begets violence. Shot in reverse, the film starts at the end with a grisly comeuppance being metered out to an unknown character in an ultra violent attack. As the story unfolds, revealing relationships and hearts disintegrated by tragedy, the random events and choices made are magnified to a quietly horrific completion. One of those movies you can't unwatch and will not likely view a second time, but will raise your eyebrows to and note mentally as a game changer in revenge thrillers.
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 8 June 2007
I watched this film 3 weeks ago, and I'm still thinking about it. It is very uncomfortable to watch like the previous reviews on here state. The camera angles, lighting, sound, dialogue, the storey line and the credits are all are designed to make you feel uncomfortable. I couldn't watch it in one sitting, as there's just too much horribleness. I needed to watch something light and funny just to reach an equilibrium in my mind, before watching more.
To say it's 'Coward's Porn that lacks balls' is so wrong. If a someone can crack one off to this film, then they should go and place themselves on a register.
The rape scene is utterly horrid, but to shoot it in any other way would be wrong.
I think the film suits being in reverse chronology as I would have forgotten the start of the story due to the impact of the middle and ending.
I cant give it 5 stars as it really made me feel sick with the spinning cameras.
added 05/07/07- Amazon £13.95! HMV fiver!
32 of 41 people found the following review helpful
Irreversible is probably the most explicit and upsetting film I have ever seen. I bought it on DVD but can't bring myself to watch it again. That said, I can remember every single scene because love it or hate it, you certainly won't forget it. It is an uncompromising masterpiece but because it contains such horrific sexual violence, many will see it as gratuitous pornography.
The film is told in reverse, much like 'Memento', starting with the climax and tracking backwards to the beginning. It begins with two men being arrested for battering a man to death in a nasty looking gay club 'The Rectum'. As the story unfolds (backwards) we learn that the dead man subjected a woman (Belluci) to quite possibly the worst sexual assault ever committed to film (the scene lasts almost 15 minutes) and her boyfriend and ex-boyfriend hunted him down to take revenge. After witnessing the extreme violence in the first half of the film we then see the three friends getting ready to attend a party on the night of the assault and how her boorish boyfriend (Cassell) allows her to leave alone at night so he can stay and flirt with other women. It then goes on to show the couple at home, blissfully happy, unaware that their lives are about to be torn apart in such an unimaginable way.
Irreversible is difficult to watch. The subway scene (among others) is so intense it is impossible to view this film as entertainment but I would still recommend watching it anyway because it is far more important than the majority of Hollywood films. It is a breathtaking experience that you will never forget.
Like This? Try: Memento
31 of 40 people found the following review helpful
on 28 May 2003
When you compare this to the fuss kicked up by the BBFC for a full 31 years over Last House On the Left, it seems like a minor miracle that it was passed uncut for both the cinema and home viewing. Whilst by no means as over the top as it has been portrayed as being (the people storming out at the Cannes festival last year must have been especially sensitive), this film is obviously not for everyone. As is quite widely known, it contains a scene involving repeated interactions between a man’s head and a fire extinguisher, and also a rape scene probably only beaten in terms of explicitness by that in I Spit On Your Grave.
However, you should not be deterred by the film’s brutal reputation, as this film is one fantastic piece of cinema. Featuring superb performances from the three main protagonists Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel and Monica Bellucci (now best know as Persephone from The Matrix Reloaded, as different a film from this as is possible to get!) and dizzying camera work from Argentine director Gaspar Noé that makes NYPD Blue look like a stage play, you will certainly not forget this film in a hurry after seeing it. As long as you can understand French or don’t mind reading subtitles, and aren’t too easily shocked (the film’s reputation is perhaps a little harsh, but it still more than deserves it’s 18 certificate), this is a stylish, intelligent film that I’d heartily recommend.
16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
THere are few films that actually make me sick to my stomach, and this is one of them. The violence is so graphic - there is one scene where you can count how many teeth a man loses as his head is slowly bashed in - that I simply had to fast forward it OFTEN. Really, it made me heave, near vomiting. Then, there is the horror at the center of the plot, the fate of a beautiful and happy young woman. Now there was a time in my youth when I would have relished my "reaction," feeling that such a film made me "experience" a new reality, etc. All the artistic longings - often nonsense in retrospect - of the inexperienced. Well, I am afraid that life has made me no longer want to see such things. I have had friends who suffered similar things and there is nothing to learn from it and no value is bringing it to the screen in my opinion. However, it does make the film controversial - look at the range of reviews here!
Because of the odd way that the film is edited, I am not revealing the plot here. Indeed, with the camera waving around in an attempt at avant garde technique, it added to my nausea. Nonetheless, the acting is very very good. Moreover, there are philosophical points throughout the whole thing and they are not totally pretentious, but add to the portrayal of life and love in the film. The chemistry between the actors is totally believable, as is the changes in personality.
Am I a bourgeois philistine for saying that it was simply awful to watch? Perhaps, but maybe I have just outgrown this kind of art thing. I think you can get deep philosophy and thoughtfulness without such total horror.
on 16 April 2015
The definition of Extreme French Cinema. This film, I have to confess is very hard to follow - but the scenes are well formed and regards to one scene very tough to watch! I think if Irreversible had an extra like Momento (the Guy Pearce movie that also played out from finish to beginning) where you could actually watch it chronologically - I'm sure the film would be as good - and certainly more understandable! But its a good movie nonetheless.
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2003
You can watch a film surrounded by controversy and still wonder what all the fuss was about when it ends. Irreversible, however, is one film that it can truly be said lives up to its reputation. A bad thing?? Certainly not, but you won't enjoy it, how can you when it contains two of (in my opinion) the most distressing and disturbing scenes ever committed to celluloid? No exaggeration.
In the riskiest roles of their careers, Cassel & Belluci give powerhouse performances, as a couple thrust into a nightmare over one evening. Told backwards, the viewer is hurled into the nightmare just as quickly as its characters, as we witness Belluci's rapist being beaten in the face with a fire extinguisher until he is dead. The sheer realism of this scene is remarkable and repulsive and will more than likely deter you from wanting to continue further with the film. As a hardened viewer of some of the most intense films out there, i expected to be able to pass this by, but soon realised i was unprepared for what i was witnessing. I felt sickened, i felt the urge to stop watching, yet i was compelled to continue.
Nothing can prepare you for the (now) infamous rape scene which follows, & 5 minutes into the nine minute scene i had turned off the film, upset and unwilling to watch any further until i was better prepared. I wasn't disgusted, and its not exploitative, it just has a realism that you don't expect and aren't prepared for in the comfort of your home & everyday life. Ordinary people in an extraordinary & violent world that will always be there everytime we step outside our door. The film had set out to make a point, and had done it and then some.
You can't ignore this film, its far too important for that.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 7 August 2014
I purchased this film because, after reading the reviews - which were very mixed - I wanted to see it for myself to form my own opinions.
The film setup is rather disorientating and confusing. The camera spins around at the end of lots of scenes, and switches from past to present fairly regularly. Obviously it is intentional and adds to the atmosphere.
I don't normally get upset at films but I couldn't finish this film. It is very graphic and violent - I knew that when I purchased it, but I wasn't prepared for just how much. The rape scene in particular is so brutal. I was shaking and crying. That scene will be on my mind for a long time.
And that is where I end with this film. After I watched the rape scene I couldn't watch anymore and so, I can't give a full rundown of the whole film. If you think it is going to be your average brawl/punch-up kind of film, you are going to find you are mistaken.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2005
Rape is shocking, and this is a film which reiterates this point (you could argue that this point doesn't need reiterating), or rather pummels the full horror of rape right into your soul. I just marvel at the skill of the director because i have never seen such an intense film in my life. It is right up there for the entire 90 minutes! It's an exhilirating experience to witness art of this quality, and the film totally hits the spot on many other levels - excellent music, exploration of friendship and loyalty, the most beautiful love scenes which add so much poignancy. I could go on, i loved it both times i saw it. Though i'm not sure i could stomach a third viewing!