Directed & Written by Gaspar Noé
Produced by Christophe Rossignon & Richard Grandpierre
Cast: Monica Belluci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel & Joe Presta
2002/99 mins/Color/5.1 DD
2.35:1/French/France/PAL Region 2
Review from Studio Canal DVD
"Le temps détruit tout" - "Time destroys everything".
French director Gaspar Noé, who previously gave us the raw and ruthless life of a butcher in CARNE and SEUL CONTRE TOUS (look for a cool cameo at the beginning or is it end of this film), is back with the ultimate rape and revenge mind fuck and best film of 2002, IRREVERSIBLE.
Superbly told backward, à-la MEMENTO which Noé admited being inspired by, IRREVERSIBLE follows the life of and ultimate "demise" of real life couple Vincent Cassel (Marcus) and Monica Belluci (Alex). Some might say it is just another gimmick but trust me, a gimmick it ain't. This is the only proper way i would see the story of this film to be told to have the impact it has.
Normally the last thing you see when watching a film is the end credits, well not this time. Moving from top to bottom and backward, the end credits are the first thing to appear onscreen. The film then take us within the characters state of mind as the camera is moving in chaotic ways. The camera starts spinning, twisting, turning in every possible angles and at changing speed, if this doesn't make you dizzy nothing will. Marcus is taken out of a club on a stretcher while Pierre is taken out by cops.
The camera keeps on spinning, twisting, turning in every possible angles, following curves and imperceptible trajectories, knocked against the walls, Marcus and Pierre enter a gay club appropriately named, Le Rectum. They are searching for someone called LeTenia. Marcus aggressively asks everyone who and where is LeTenia, he even slaps some of them and disrupt others as they are having sex, blow jobs, fisting or hand jobs which seems to be the activities in this club located in a cellar which looks like a catacombs from hell. After spending a lot of time searching they finally find someone who they think is LeTenia, LeTenia is actually the guy on the right, a drunk Marcus jumps the guy on the left who was trying to escape but ends up down with his arm to be broken by the guy Marcus thinks is LeTenia. Out of nowhere comes Pierre with a fire extinguisher hitting the guy's head repeatedly and all the more violently everytime until he completely disfigures him and leaves him a bloody mess and almost faceless! This being one of the most violent and graphic onscreen scene i have ever seen!
Once again the camera keeps on spinning, twisting, turning in every possible angles making me almost sick, we now find Marcus and Pierre trying to find a club called Le Rectum. Even more camera spinning and twisting as Marcus and Pierre are now in a taxi and are having troubles with the Chinese driver as Marcus is furious about what happened.
Guess what? The camera is still spinning and turning as Marcus and Pierre are helped by two street thugs in which for some money they will help them find who did it as they asked several prostitues. We move backward as Marcus and Pierre are questioned by the polices. Backward once again as Marcus and Pierre leaves a party and while walking in the street they happen to see a person taken on a stretcher, people shouting that she was raped, as Marcus approches he makes the unfortunate discovery that it is his wife Alex on the stretcher, her face a bloody mess.
Backward yet again, we now follow Alex leaving the party after a dispute with Marcus, after being incapable of crossing a huge boulevard, a prostitue indicates her a tunnel which goes under the boulevard... Alex makes the unforgetable decision to go in the dark red tunnel. It is there that she comes across LeTenia who just punched a prostitue who flees for her life, as he sees Alex, LeTenia goes after her, make her go down an rape her in one long 9 minutes static shot where the camera doesn't move. This way we can feel the pain Alex is suffering and enduring. This is yet another hard to watch scene which had many people leaving the theater...
I guess i already spoiled much of the film. The rest of the film takes us deep within the life of Alex and Marcus, a young and beautiful couple who had everything for themselves but because of one small decision their lives will be forever changed. Even days after first seeing IRREVERSIBLE the film still haunted me. In some scene the onscreen violence is almost unbearable. Remember when you first saw SALO THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM or CUTTING MOMENTS? Well IRREVERSIBLE will take you to a whole new level of onscreen mayhem and violence. Gaspar Noé's uses of selected frame speed accelaration make some of the violence even harder to look at. The first twenty some minutes where the camera is spinning, twisting and turning in every possible angles is physically disorienting. The opening credit scene, which is actually the end credit scene, is among the most stunning and visually impressive i've ever seen. Noé construted a masterpiece which itself is constructed of twelve sequences ending it with Beethoven' superb Symphony #7 in a major op. 92.
This is a violent and vile film but also a very sad one. After all the onscreen mayhem the last sequences makes it all more painful and disturbing. IRREVERSIBLE made me realize that everything you do or say will have a direct impact on the next. We can't go back in time and what we are doing now is setting the future... time destroys everything.
Noé first approched Cassel and Monica do to a pseudo porno film but they weren't really into it. Noé then decided to turn the project into a rape and revenge flick which would be consisted of twelve sequences and most of them featuring improvisation because of the rather small four page scenario. IRREVERSIBLE is a succession of sequences in reverse chronology. There's an abundance of shots that have been digitally enhanced in post-production to conceal the invisible link scenes.
After seeing the film twice in theater this was one of my most anticipated DVD release. The film is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. The image looks great and features rich and vibrants colors, especially the reds. In the darker scenes there's some signs of compression from time to time but nothing alarming.
The disc features one very aggresive 5.1 Dolby Digital audio track. In the booklet there's a mention at the last page that we should turn on our audio system to the loudest to really benifit from the low frequency. The audio track is atmospheric and really help us get into the film. The .1 LFE is heavily use throughout the film. The bass saturates the sound space and contributes to the stagnation of the whole.
The coolest extra has to be the very interesting and informational commentary track with Noé which goes into all the details of the film. We also get a short film called INTOXICATION which was supposed to be a epilogue to SEUL CONTRE TOUS, a 7 minutes clip on the special fx called SFX, two unreleased video clips, the theatrical trailer, 6 theatrical teasers and a deleted scene called 4:08 which shows Alex (Belluci) in her hospital bed.
The menus, remiscent of the film's credit, are nicely done and features music and animation. The film is separated in 16 chapters. Studio Canal released two DVD edition of IRREVERSIBLE in France. Both have the pretty much the same features except that the one coming in the box set with SEUL CONTRE TOUS comes with three very nice IRREVERSIBLE post cards, the soundtrack which only comes in a plastic and a nicely done 16 pages booklet which features an interview with Gaspar Noé, the basic script, color photos and various press reviews. A commentary track with Cassel and Belluci was planned but wasn't done. Finally the DVD comes in a very nice cardboard box which looks very stylish. Please note that there is no English subtitles.
This review is from the DVD that comes in a box set along with another great film from Gaspar Noé, SEUL CONTRE TOUS. IRREVERSIBLE was also released in France and in Italy as a single disc edition.
Overall a very good DVD for a masterpiece.
This Film Features:
Review by Kim Dubuisson. All Right Reserved. 2003. ©
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