Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Movie Review: Irreversible

Irreversible (2002) is the second feature of French director Gaspar Noe, and the feature debut of cinematographer Benoit Debie. Shot in second-person point-of-view, and revealed through reverse-chronology, it takes its viewer deeply into the very air of a tragic night in Paris where two men, lover (Vincent Cassel) and ex-lover (Albert Dupontel), seek revenge on a pimp who brutally raped and murdered their beloved Alex (Monica Bellucci) in a subway tunnel.

The film is as disturbing as one of its subject matter ought to be, which is precisely what makes it so impactful. Debie's camera spirals and shakes throughout, eliciting palpable qualities of chaos, grief, and adrenaline. However, arguably the most frantic moment (and I say "arguably" because parts of the revenge sequence make "Scarface" look like "High School Musical") is the rape itself, the film's one still-shot.

While absolutely not for the squeamish, Irreversible evokes just the right harmonies of tone and perspective to make a truly righteous statement. In an age when violence against women is trivialized -- mocked, even -- in pop-culture and politics, someone needed to portray the calamity of rape and murder accurately: the horrors of torture and violation, the vast ramifications blasted into the scheme of cause and effect to perpetuate its sting in unknowable ways, and the tragedy inherent in robbed potential. Gaspar Noe had the balls -- and talent -- to do it.


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