The most important film of the decade in my opinion. Irreversible is a powerful, gut wrenching tour de force of incredible power. I will never forget my first “experience” watching this. After the rape, and when the guy starts to beat the poor woman, i shouted at the screen “Come on, stop!!!”.
Gaspar Noe’s powerful, powerful film has upset and stunned audiences. Some get the point, others claim its just violent and nasty, and therefore don’t believe it could possibly have a point. Believe me, it does. The key to Irreversible’s success and brilliance, is the story unfolding backwards. A masterful stroke of real brilliance, we see how things turn out, and are able to analyse the previous situation after its happened, and really think about “what if he’d reacted differently”.
The story is this, 2 lovers, fairly recently together, are off to a party with the girls (Alex) ex boyfriend. The couple argue at the party because the boyfriend is behaving like a bit of a prat, taking drugs, kissing other women, and generally being an asshole. She leaves party, takes underpass, and then gets raped and beaten in a sickening scene. What follows is her boyfriends reaction to finding out what happened, and his downward spiral for revenge. This is all told in reverse order. We see him catch up with who he believes to be the Tenia, the monster who raped his girlfriend. In a truly astonishing, violent as hell scene, they fight, and what happens here is one of THE most violent scenes ever filmed. Its brutal, and the genius, the real fuckin genius to it is you are sickened by it and that is Noe’s masterstroke. Told in proper order, you would cheer him on, be happy and say he deserved it. But this is told backwards, so you are forced to see this happen, and you don’t believe anyone deserves this. So, Noe has forced you to think about your reactions, rather than applaud them. You have to ask yourself, did the boyfriend do the right thing? Could i have done the same? Because no one fucking wins in the end.
The camera work is like nothing you have ever, or will ever see again. Its a chaotic, almost drunken movement as the camera spins uncontrolably around and jumps through scenes. However, it does calm as we near the end, and things go back to normal. Another brilliant move, the camera influences the mood, the feel of the characters as we move forward (backward!). Some people struggled to deal with this sort of filming, i loved it and it really helped add to the atmosphere. We then have this horrific music during our visit to the gay club called The Rectum, and we are hit with scenes of men doing things to each other, and it sets the scene for a pretty horrible place. Its a million miles from the warm, bright coloured, passionate feel of the 2 lovers together at the end (beginning ), this is dark, haunting, and very scary, and its another way of Noe using his skills to show just how low revenge and desperation has sent our boyfriend and his mate. It is at the Rectum we see the now infamous fire extinguisher scene, a horrific scene that IS meant to shock and upset, and fuck me it does. But that’s the point, Noe wants to show how one bad move can lead you into a hell that’s very difficult to escape. If the guys hadn’t been talked into this revenge by 2 local thugs, then maybe, just maybe things would’ve turned out ok, they certainly wouldn’t have turned out right, but at least they would be able to repair the damage. Thanks to their actions, they will now spend years in prison, and Alex will be alone.
The actual rape is a horrific, sickening scene too, but, why not? Why should it be dumbed down and sugar coated? Rape is a terrible, terrible thing, and Noe is only showing us what can really happen. Its supposed to scare and upset, that’s the fuckin point, it is not a nice thing to happen, and Irreversible is a brutally honest film. While the attack happens, the camera sits on the floor, not moving, and you simply have to endure it. Its not cut, edited, and there’s no music to enhance it, its as if you are watching a real rape and its very very upsetting and its here you can reflect and think about whether the revenge was justified. As we go backwards, we see Alex being wheeled into an ambulance, just as her boyfriend leaves the party and walks past. The way Noe shows his reaction is brilliant, and utterly heartbreaking, the camera bangs into focus on his face, with the sound of a heart beating. Its a savage and upsetting scene, but executed brilliantly.
As we move backwards, we see how things go wrong at the party, and finally we see the 2 madly in love, without a care in the world. She is pregnant, and they look like they have a great future together. Its very unsettling to know how the day turns out, its devastating. What i believe Noe is trying to say in this film, is, if you are in love with someone, you dam well hold onto them, treat them right and care for them and stay by their side no matter what. Alex is a good woman, and her boyfriend became an ass at the party and did not treat her in a way she deserved, her ex-boyfriend could see it too. If he had behaved and looked after her and spent time with her, she would never have left and non of this would’ve happened. Maybe a bit harsh to think that this could be the main point to the film? Probably. I think, overall, Noe is trying to get a point across that bad things do happen, they can happen to anyone, and how you choose to deal with it and react to it, is a choice you make, but bloody think before you do anything.