Irreversible (2003)


A young woman is brutally raped in a subway tunnel provoking huge discussions between beret wearing chin-strokers as to whether or not it’s art. (Joke.)

This film is most definitely well acted, particularly I’d have to say by Monica Belucci whom I’ve never really considered a great actress before, but she is totally believable which is why the ordeal she endures is even more difficult to stomach. The rape scene is truly horrific; I genuinely believe that sensationalism was not the aim and its brutal realism is almost unbearable. But what of the rest of the film? The story is told in reverse, but I couldn’t really see the reason why beyond disguising the sparsity of the plot. Were we supposed to be more horrified by what we’d seen after we’d gotten to know some personal details about the victim? That makes little sense in the context of a film where realism rather than manipulation is supposed to be the key to the reaction to what we are seeing. I do believe that there was a point to making this film beyond commercial shock value, but whatever the message was, it is lost in a morbid sea of erratic camera movements and sexual violence. I could just as easily dismiss any attempts at intellectualising it and just describe it as Cloverfield with a rape instead of a monster.

It is comparatively easy to illicit a gut reaction; the job of art is to provoke thought. In that, this film fails quite spectacularly. The sensation is rather more like having your nose rubbed in somebody else’s filth.


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