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Customer Review

4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A truly remarkable piece of film-making... but approach with EXTREME caution, 2 Aug. 2007
This review is from: Irreversible (DVD) (Collector's Edition) (Subtitled) [2003] (DVD)
Irreversible tells the story of two lovers, Marcus and Alex, and their friend, Pierre, whose lives are changed forever following a night of horrific violence. Only 15 minutes or so into the film, the viewer is subjected to a nauseating scene of brutality, but since the story is shown in reverse, this is in fact a culmination of what, in actuality, precedes it. The natural, human reaction to extreme violence is, of course, disgust (and believe me, you will recoil in genuine disgust at the scene in question) but as the viewer is, at this stage, unaware of what could possibly have led to such violence, this is soon replaced by an urge - an almost pathological need - to watch the remainder of the film and find out what happened. In this sense, the film has already succeeded where it might well have otherwise failed.

What happens in the second scene of violence is, again, almost impossible to watch in its entirety. However, this scene is both pivotal to the film's plot and possibly the only one of its kind in the history of modern cinema. Without going into great detail, or giving too much away, what the viewer gets is a gutter-level depiction of a rape and the subsequent assault. As obvious as it may sound, there is nothing - repeat, NOTHING - titillating, thrilling or remotely stimulating about the scene in question. It truly is the stuff of nightmares. This begs the question: why bother? Why bother watching it? Why bother including it in the first place? Well, for exactly the reasons outlined above. Rape - both the subject itself and its depiction - is given a wide berth by most film-makers and in this sense, the director, Gaspar Noé, should be congratulated for his courage to take on this 'taboo' subject and portray it for what it is: terrifying, cowardly, and utterly reprehensible.

Irreversible is a timely and tragic reminder of the devastating consequences of violence in general, and of a so-called 'hate-crime' in particular; however, it is also a touching and funny portrait of two lovers, and through the three characters of Marcus, Alex and Pierre, it provides an honest and insightful appraisal of the nature of modern relationships.

As impressive as this film is, it is impossible to recommend it unreservedly, as even the most steel-nerved of viewers will almost certainly experience an unpleasant reaction to the rape scene, in particular. But then, I guess that's the idea. One thing's for sure, though: Irreversible is a film you are unlikely to forget in a hurry - even if you want to...

Matt Pucci
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