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Irreversible (2002) Movie Review

Updated on September 27, 2011

Set in Paris over one night, Irreversible shows the events leading up to the horrific rape of Alex (Monica Belluci) and what happens in its aftermath. The story is told reverse chronologically and follows Alex, her boyfriend Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel), Alex’s ex-lover, at different points during the evening.

Initially Irreversible is disorientating, largely due to the unusual camera work which mimics the movements of a disembodied being, stopping for a few minutes at one scene then moving on to the next. The movement levels out after a while, the pauses become longer; almost as though the incorporeal form has been mastered. The viewer becomes aware of the movement back through time and of the traumatic event which is soon to come. This creates a mood of tense anticipation.

The first part of the film is violent and dark as Marcus and Pierre journey through the city’s underbelly, seeking revenge; a search of one location in particular ends in one of the most brutal acts of violence you are likely to see on screen. The rape, when it comes, is shockingly merciless; Bellucci may have left something of herself behind in the scene and you will find it difficult not to turn away. The extreme violence of these minutes serves to separate the film, with the second part showing the characters as they naturally are: intelligent; somewhat carefree; more than a little self indulgent. But much of the good mood is lost on the viewer because of the awareness of events yet to transpire.

Irreversible is a fascinating film which considers the nature of time and its ruinous effect on everything but much too graphic for everyone's taste.


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