While Argentinian filmmaker Gaspar Noé is no stranger to controversy, his latest was causing a scandal before it even unspooled at Cannes 2002. Not hard to see why: that would be the nine-minute anal rape scene.

Told in reverse, à la Memento, Irréversible opens in the wake of a bloody murder. Two men, Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel), trawl through the bowels of a gay S&M club searching for the pimp who raped Marcus' girlfriend Alex (Monica Bellucci). Their need for revenge culminates in the wrong man having his head beaten to a pulp.

Yet worse is to come. Forty-five minutes in, we witness the rape itself, a prolonged sequence of gut-wrenching brutality and violation. Make it through, however, and you'll leave strangely uplifted, the final third soothing nerves with its intimate, naked moments between Alex and Marcus.

Noé defends his film as being about real life, but inevitably it will polarise viewers into those who admire the intent and those who despise the result. But whatever your opinion, this is a remarkable, difficult and thought-provoking drama. You may not like Irréversible, but you definitely won't forget it.

Film Details

User Reviews

    • bbluiez

      Jan 16th 2009, 11:37


      Gasper Noé’s portrayal of a tragic night in life of three individuals is indeed shocking, yet his style of filming and use of movement, colour and sound makes this film a must see. Shown in reverse chronological order, the viewer witnesses the violent and gruesome act of revenge from the two male characters Marcus and Pierre, long before they see the rape scene of Marcus’s girlfriend Alex, which is the motivation for their anger. This reverse structure creates an intense and absorbing narrative. Vincent Cassel’s performance of the distraught and violent boyfriend is brutally convincing, conveying the animalistic behaviour that exists within all of us. Noé’s film creates a physical response from the viewer, making it impossible to watch without an intense emotive reaction. This film is indeed explicit, with scenes such as a nine minute rape sequence that are difficult to watch, yet somehow Noé makes it impossible to look away. The characters are believable and honest, which makes their fate all the more powerful. This film will not be to everyone’s taste and many will not enjoy it, but it is an important piece of aggressive cinema that should definitely be experienced.

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    • Jdawe1

      Nov 10th 2010, 11:45


      I finally managed to track this film down by having a region 1 copy shipped in from Canada. I only purchased this to understand the hype surrounding a film classed as one of the most disturbing films ever made! Although i would agree that it is a good story well told i have to say i wish that the camera would stop moving around quite so randomly. It made me and my girlfriend on the verge of vomiting! And this was before we even got to the rape scene! This film is disturbing if this type of film is new to you, but having clearly been desensitized by top quality (disturbing) french films such as Martyrs, Inside and Frontier(s) i didn't really enjoy (if that's the right word) this as much as i could have.

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