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Irréversible [2002]: About Time and All That It Destroys

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Gasper Noe’s erotic melodrama is a classic vengeance story spun into cinema. It’s so blatantly violent in its approach that it’s difficult to sit through it without the off-putting elements searing themselves permanently into your memory. A wavering camera follows the events of the night in reverse chronological order, and you’ll note it bears a striking resemblance to Christopher Nolan’s Memento.

An overall gloomy atmosphere. A deceased love interest. The lust for revenge coursing through veins. But the result is far more shocking and cruel as a coked-up boyfriend (Vincent Cassel) seeks revenge after his beautiful Alex (Monica Bellucci) is raped and murdered in a red-walled desolate underpass while returning from a party. 

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The movie doesn’t wait for you to get comfortable in your seat before attacking you with harrowing images of a dimly lit gay sex club and a face smashed in with a fire extinguisher. Before you know it you look on helplessly as the camera unflinchingly witnesses the rape of the protagonist shot in real time and purposely prolonged to provoke.

Irréversible 2002 high on films review
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It’s impossible to look away or ignore the ear-piercing howls for help, and Gasper once again succeeds in making the audience uncomfortable- something he’s notoriously famous for since his previous releases like ‘Carne’ and ‘Enter the Void’. The movie isn’t for someone who walks into the theatre longing entertainment.

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Irréversible wastes no time in seduction and confronts head-on. The gorgonizing camera movements disorient your brain- starting in a manic frenzy during the bloodshed and then deaccelerating progressively as the movie trails backward to the pre-catastrophe where characters share intimate moments and insightful carnal musings.

Apart from the obvious antagonist, time plays the role of an unconventional villain in the plot. It proves to be the ultimate calamity that exploits the lead, while the director ironically frolics with the notion of time in consecutive shots. Some scenes are rushed and incoherent while the others are protracted and intricate.




Revenge precedes violation. Sexual assault precedes sensual lovemaking. The movie uses the tragedy as bait and then reels us in burying us amidst the lives that are about to be permanently altered. The product is a fascinating study of the ruthless humor of fate. 

The chronology disguises the ending tricking the audience to expect an utter anticlimax initially, but the movie makes a tender revelation just in right time to raise the stakes of the protagonists’ misfortune. It invokes a flare-up of genuine sorrow and turns the onslaught very personal and the gore of it lingers long enough to leave a formidable impact.




Irréversible concludes with a disarming array of end shots leaving the audience dumbstruck and wanting more. Needless to say, the detached and atrocious filmmaking won’t be suitable for all but this film is a must watch as it will leave questioning the importance of an uncomfortable cinematic experience and reminds you of the most valuable lesson- that time will have its fancy, tomorrow or today.

Author: Sargam Vyas

Irréversible Links: IMDb, Wikipedia

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