IN a way, Irreversible is a straightforward tale of rape and revenge. However it's not quite that simple, as due to two highly controversial and provocative scenes, Gaspar Noe's film has become notorious. Whether it deserves notoriety is debatable. One thing that is for certain, however, is that it will divide opinion and disgust and titillate in equal measure. Using an interestingly different narrative structure (a la Memento) it starts at the beginning and rewinds to the end, outlining the relationship between Alex (Bellucci), her boyfriend Marcus (Cassel) and her former lover Pierre (Dupontel). Its two pivotal moments come when Alex is barbarously raped and Pierre savagely kills a man who he believes is the rapist, after hunting him down with Marcus, who is consumed with bloody revenge upon learning of the attack. Without these two scenes, Irreversible is a somewhat unremarkable affair, in fact, it's even dull. Pierre, who wants Alex back, lusts over her and predictably disapproves of her courtship with Marcus, who, as we view when the trio are at a party, has a penchant for drug taking and has a blase attitude towards his girlfriend. Alex's rape dramatically alters everything and in a particulary repugnant and tortuously long scene, she is sodomised in the most brutal fashion and then battered to a pulp in an unprovoked and sickening attack. Marcus and Pierre go after the perpetrator and upon finding the man who they believe is responsible, Pierre, who ironically tries to calm Marcus, attacks him with frightening venom, bashing him repeatedly with a fire extinguisher until his face turns to mush and his body lays lifeless. Now whether this double whammy of graphic sex and violence is sheer aimless depravity and misogynstic wickedness for no reason or a depiction of unflinchingly raw realism is indeterminate. There can be no arguing that the sequences don't have some kind of impact however. Anybody who has seen and survived intact from watching Pasolini's famous Salo or the Last 120 days of Sodom, Zeir Marchi's I Spit On Your Grave or Wes Craven's The Last House on the Left should be relatively unaffected by what happens on screen, others however may be unprepared and choose to abstain from watching. Whatever your viewpoint, Irreversible, though stylistically messy and purposefully disorientating, does have merit and is unmissable, if only for its ability to shock and repel.