Larry’s review published on Letterboxd:
Time destroys everything.
Time robs us of our lives, time takes away our loved ones and time erodes away feeling and passion with an almost malicious intent. But in the case of Irreversible we are given a reverse narrative that ironically and maybe even unintentionally shows us that time also heals things no matter how awful.
This French masterpiece by Gaspar Noe travels into the deepest, darkest, smelliest rectum of France to expose a brutal crime that sends the lives of a handful of people into red bloody chaos. Irreversible is a film notorious in film circles for its incredibly violent and drawn out assault scenes that make you twitch, squirm, and in some cases look away in shame. But the film also has, buried underneath the scuzz, a tender and passionate side that reveals itself as the film progresses through its own nightmarish dreamscape. When you look at the first and last 10 minutes of this film you wouldn't think they were of the same genre let alone story.
Gaspar decides to tell his story in reverse chronology that begins with what would be the incredibly violent resolution to a revenge thriller and then works backwards throughout the day detailing the events leading up to the event that would put the whole course of violence in motion; the brutal rape of a young woman named Alex. The scene in question is worth mentioning but I won't dwell on it. Its brutal. Its brilliant in a way. How anyone would think to put that on screen is beyond me and the physical acting of Monica Bellucci sells it 100%. We as viewers are shocked, appalled, and confused by the events at the beginning but once we work backwards and witness the rape that put it in motion, it all makes sense. It makes you feel horrible for feeling that way, but a common theme i noticed in Irreversible was how each scene seemed to erase the existence of the one before it. They almost work like standalone vignettes and each has something else to say; bad or good.
What we have here is obviously an examination of a violent act and all the threads it creates, but in individual scenes Irreversible explores ideas ranging from love and relationships to modern hedonistic fetishes and new age misogyny. Most of the nastiness happens in the first half of the film while the second half deals almost exclusively with tenderness and warmth. Before these people's lives were brutalized and ruined forever they shared tender moments together and lamented about past loves. We have no idea who these people are at first but as the film progresses we learn how they are connected and how this fateful night came together. The film becomes powerful with simplicity considering the horribleness that came before. Characters that were raped and had their faces shoved in concrete, or people who had previously been turning a gay night club upside down and bashing people's heads in are now thrown into quiet scenarios like playfully rolling around a bed or kissing each other through a shower curtain. Its this juxtaposition that helps drive the point of the film home and sober the viewer up to lament on the events they have just seen. And won't soon forget.
As a huge fan of Enter the Void I was relieved to find out that Irreversible is of the same visual caliber; Noe has cemented his place as one of the most interesting directors working today. Like in Enter the Void, long unbroken shots, seamless and natural transitions, kinetic camera angles, and dreamy movements make the film feel like one big take.
One film that I will never ever forget.
Man French people are fucked