Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Gaspar Noé|
|Produced by||Brahim Chioua
|Written by||Gaspar Noé|
|Music by||Thomas Bangalter|
|Cinematography||Benoît Debie (lighting)
Gaspar Noé (camera)
|Edited by||Gaspar Noé|
Les Cinémas de la Zone
|Distributed by||Mars Distribution|
|Running time||97 minutes|
Irréversible (French pronunciation: [iʁevɛʁˈsiblə]) is a 2002 French mystery thriller film written and directed by Gaspar Noé, starring Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel. The film employs a non-linear narrative and follows two men as they try to avenge a brutally raped girlfriend. The soundtrack was composed by the electronic musician Thomas Bangalter, who is best known as half of the duo Daft Punk.
American film critic Roger Ebert called it "a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable." Irréversible competed at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival and won the Stockholm International Film Festival's award for best film.
Irreversible has been associated with a series of films defined as the cinéma du corps ("cinema of the body"), which according to Palmer share affinities with certain avant-garde productions: an attenuated use of narrative, assaulting and often illegible cinematography, confrontational subject material, a pervasive sense of social nihilism or despair. Irreversible has also been associated with the New French Extremity movement.
Irréversible contains thirteen scenes presented in reverse chronological order. They are discussed here in the film's chronological order.
A young woman named Alex is reading An Experiment with Time by John William Dunne in a park, surrounded by playing children. Beethoven's 7th Symphony is heard in the background. The camera spins around faster and faster until it blacks out into a strobe effect, accompanied by a pulsing, roaring sound. A rapidly spinning image of the cosmos can be dimly perceived. A title card reads: "Time destroys everything" — a phrase uttered in the film's first scene. The film ends.
Marcus and Alex, who live together, now lie in bed after sex. Alex reveals she might be pregnant, and Marcus is pleased with the possibility. They prepare to go to a party, and Marcus leaves to buy wine. Alex takes a shower, then uses a home pregnancy test that confirms she is pregnant. She is elated. She sits on the bed clothed, her hand on her belly. A poster for Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the tagline "The Ultimate Trip," is above the headboard.
At a nearby Paris Métro station and aboard a subway train, a trio - Alex, Marcus and Pierre - are on their way to a party. They discuss sex and Pierre refers to the fact that he and Alex were once dating, but are no longer in a relationship. He implies that Marcus stole Alex from him.
Some time passes. Alex, Marcus, and Pierre have arrived at the party. Alex is annoyed by Marcus's unrestrained use of drugs and alcohol and his flirtatious behavior with other women, and consequently decides to leave the party alone.
On her way home, Alex sees a pimp ("le Tenia," or "the Tapeworm") beating a transsexual prostitute named Concha in a pedestrian underpass. Once the man sees Alex, he lets go of Concha and turns his attention to Alex. Alex attempts to flee, but le Tenia catches her and threatens her with a knife. Le Tenia pins Alex to the ground and anally rapes her for several minutes of screentime, after which he brutally beats her into unconsciousness.
A short period of time passes. Alex is hospitalized and revealed to be comatose. Marcus and Pierre are questioned by the police. They then talk to a street thug named Mourad and his friend Layde. The two gangsters promise, if they get paid, to help them find the rapist, whom Mourad claims is le Tenia. Marcus and Pierre go looking for the man who raped Alex. Marcus is still high on drugs and very agitated. Everything in the story moves at a frenetic pace.
Marcus and Pierre track down Concha, le Tenia's last victim. At first, she refuses to talk to them. After Marcus threatens to slash her with a piece of broken glass, she identifies le Tenia as the rapist and says he can be found at a gay BDSM nightclub called The Rectum.
Marcus and Pierre go to The Rectum, but do not know what le Tenia looks like. Marcus finds le Tenia standing with another man. Thinking the other man is le Tenia, he assaults him, but the man wrestles Marcus to the ground, breaks Marcus's arm, and attempts to rape Marcus on the club floor. Pierre defends Marcus by grabbing a fire extinguisher and using it brutally to crush the man's skull to a pulp, thus killing him. Le Tenia - the source of all the havoc - stands there groggily, perhaps not believing he got away. Police arrest Pierre and put him in handcuffs. An ambulance arrives, and Marcus is put on a stretcher and taken from the club. Outside, a group of men shout homophobic insults at them. The murdered man is revealed not to be le Tenia after all. Rather, the man standing next to him in the club was the real le Tenia.
Across the street in a small apartment, two men are talking about sex. One of them is "the Butcher," the protagonist of Noé's previous film, I Stand Alone. In a drunken monologue, the Butcher reveals that he was arrested for having sex with his own daughter. The subject of their discussion shifts to the commotion in the streets outside. Without looking out the window, they derisively attribute the commotion to the patrons of The Rectum.
- Monica Bellucci as Alex
- Vincent Cassel as Marcus
- Albert Dupontel as Pierre
- Jo Prestia as Le Tenia
- Mourad Khima as Mourad
- Hellal as Layde
- Jaramillo as Concha
- Philippe Nahon as the man (The Butcher)
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (July 2011)|
Irréversible was shot using a widescreen 16mm process. Many of the scenes were shot with multiple takes that were then edited together using digital processing, creating the illusion that the scene was filmed all in one shot, with no cuts or edits. This included the rape scene, portrayed in a single, unbroken shot. Although the penis can be seen after the rape, this was later digitally added in editing with computer-generated imagery. Another example is with the scene where Pierre bludgeons a man to death, crushing his skull. Computer graphics were brought in to augment the results, as initial footage using a conventional latex dummy proved unconvincing. The process can be watched in the bonus material of the film's DVD. The film uses extremely low-frequency sound during the opening scenes to create a state of disorientation and unease in the audience.
The film premiered in France on 22 May 2002 through Mars Distribution. It competed at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. It was released in the United Kingdom on 31 January 2003 through Metro Tartan Distribution, and the United States on 7 March 2003 through Lions Gate Films. Audience reactions to both the rape scene and the murder scene have ranged from appreciation of their artistic merits to leaving the theater in disgust. Newsweek's Ansen stated that "If outraged viewers (mostly women) at the Cannes Film Festival are any indication, this will be the most walked-out-of movie of 2003." In the same review, Ansen suggested that the film displayed "an adolescent pride in its own ugliness".
Critical response to the film was divided. As of 2011, it held a score of 56% positive verdict from 119 reviews at Rotten Tomatoes, with an average rating of 5.7/10. The American film critic Roger Ebert argued that the film's structure makes it inherently moral; that by presenting vengeance before the acts that inspire it, we are forced to process the vengeance first, and therefore think more deeply about its implications.
The film won the top award, the Bronze Horse for best film, at the 2002 Stockholm International Film Festival. It was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Award by the Film Critics Circle of Australia. It was voted Best Foreign Language Film by the San Diego Film Critics Society, tied with Les Invasions Barbares. It grossed $792,200 from theatrical screenings.
Film critic David Edelstein argues that "Irreversible might be the most homophobic movie ever made." Noé's depiction of gay criminal Le Tenia inexplicably raping the female lead, Alex, remains the film's most controversial image. In his defense, Noé has stated, "I’m not homophobic," further stating that "I also appear in Irreversible, masturbating at the gay club," as a means of showing that "I didn't feel superior to gays."
- "IRREVERSIBLE (18)". British Board of Film Classification. 2002-10-21. Retrieved 2012-12-30.
- "Irreversible" rogerebert.com 14 March 2003 Retrieved 30 March 2012
- Palmer, Tim (2011). Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema, Wesleyan University Press, Middleton CT. ISBN 0-8195-6827-9.
- "Festival de Cannes: Irréversible". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- Metro Cinema: Irréversible
- David Ansen. "How Far Is Too Far?", Newsweek, March 3, 2003
- Rotten Tomatoes. "Irreversible", On October 27, 2010
- Roger Ebert. "Irreversible" at the Wayback Machine (archived March 29, 2010), March 14, 2003
- "Irreversible". Retrieved 2012-02-05.
- "Irreversible Errors". 2003-03-07. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
- "‘Enter the Void’ Director Gaspar Noe Talks Sex, Drugs and Narrative Cinema". 2010-09-21. Retrieved 2012-03-10.
- Irréversible at the Internet Movie Database
- Irréversible at AllMovie
- Irréversible at Box Office Mojo
- Irréversible at Rotten Tomatoes
- Irréversible at Metacritic
- Irreversible on Le Temps Détruit Tout (Unofficial & International website about Gaspar Noé)