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Irreversible (2002)


Time destroys everything

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 95 minutes

UK Certificate: 18


“Irreversible” is a story told in reverse – the first scene is the story's conclusion, and each subsequent sequence proceeds back through the events that led up to it. Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel play Marcus and Pierre, two friends angrily searching for someone in a seedy gay sex club. It takes them some time, but they eventually find their target and beat him to death. But Marcus and Pierre are not murderous thugs by nature – a complex series of events has led to this moment.

Before they found their way to the club, Marcus and Pierre had to bully a transvestite into telling them the way. During this emotional exchange, they explain that they are searching for the man who brutally raped Marcus' girlfriend Alex (Monica Bellucci), who remains in hospital. The story moves back to the rape itself, as Alex is attacked in a subway. She is raped, brutally beaten, and left for dead. Back in time again, and Alex is seen leaving a party early, explaining why she was alone when she was attacked. In time, the film will trace all the events that altered three ordinary people's lives irrevocably and led to the death of a fourth.

This startlingly original production won Best Film at Stockholm, nomination for a Palme d'Or at Cannes, and selection for the Sundance festival. In “Irreversible” director Gaspar Noé does everything in an unconventional way. Not only is the story told backwards, but the cinematography is quite groundbreaking, with lots of technically difficult camera work. Not all the cinematic devices were perfect – the spinning camera was overused, for example – but the sheer audacity of putting this much innovation together deserves credit. The dialogue is improvised and much of the action is in long single takes giving it a very realistic feel – the astonishing rape scene is nine minutes of uncut improvised brutality. The violence is extreme, although it is restricted to those few key events when it is really needed to make the plot work, and the worst is at the start of the film before the story wends its way backwards towards normality.

It's Got: A whole new approach to filmmaking.

It Needs: A bit less of watching the world spinning.

DVD Extras It would certainly have been interesting to have a director’s commentary with this film. Extras: Actor and director filmographies, Film notes, Theatrical trailers, Teaser trailers, World cinema trailer reel. DVD Extras Rating: 3/10


An important and impressive film – although not perfect, it is going to influence cinema for many years to come.