Movie of the Day – Irreversible

I have talked about films that are unsettling and disturbing on this blog several times.  I Saw The Devil, Dogtooth, and Oldboy are just a few that I have discussed about, so I guess I really like films that sort of make my skin crawl.  These aren’t horror films, to say the least, but rather films that play upon the viewers senses to illicit certain emotional connections.  The visceral images of violence make most of the mentioned films slightly unwatchable, but you can’t help but look at the act of violence play out in front of us.  Films like Memento use a non-linear story telling structure to disorient our perceived notions of simple story structure and pacing.  By cutting up the story line and giving us different scenes in and out of order, makes the initial first viewing confusing, thus forcing us to concentrate on the story and visuals to get a sense of order.  With all those films mentioned, Irreversible takes all those elements and spits out a movie that is both disturbing and captivating.  You can’t help but watch the story unfold on the screen, but at the same time you get this unsettling feeling in your stomach.

The film is about two detectives who try and solve a case that involves a friend who has been brutally raped.  While the story is straightforward, it is the fact the story is told backwards that adds to the confusion.  Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel play the detective friends Marcus and Pierre, while Monica Bellucci is the rape victim Alex.  The story is strong and plays out very well in the movie, but it’s the presentation of the backwards story that might confuse people initially.  If one were to watch the film, you are actually seeing vengeance being played out before the horrific rape ever took place.  It’s weird in a sense that we would see the end result of the action before we see what sparked this vengeance first.

It’s not the story itself that makes this a memorable movie, but it’s the subject matter and how it is displayed that is memorable.  Gasper Noe utilized the story structure, visuals, and sound to assault our senses to its maximum impact.  One of the unique things about the sound of the film is the use of low frequency sounds to create this underlying sound of uneasiness.  Hard, low pulsing sounds with the harsh visuals create a really queasy feeling when viewing the film.  You feel it in your stomach and your head feels stuffed, but it’s all used to make a point and impact.  The visuals, coupled with the sound, make for some truly horrific scenes.  In particular, it is the rape scene that takes place which is the spark for vengeance.  For nine whole minutes, a rape scene takes place.  The low frequency music keeps that sickly feeling in your stomach going while you are watching the scene unfold.  It’s a toxic visual, but it makes the necessary point of the movie and what Noe was aiming for.

This is not an easy film by any means to watch in one sitting.  The brilliantly composed soundtrack by Thomas Bangalter (who is one half of the band Daft Punk) effectively makes that punch to the stomach feeling stick.  Gasper Noe disorients us with the use of sound and visuals to create a chaotic mess.  One of the things I haven’t touched on is the use of multiple shots to create a seemingly fluid one-take look to several scenes.  You will be watching several scenes which go on for a long, uninterrupted time, but it is the use of digital editing to create the feeling of one long take.  Think back to the Children of Men scene in which Clive Owen goes off to find the baby during a battle scene.  That is essentially what you are seeing with Irreversible.

It’s a harsh film to watch, especially with the rape scene going on and on for as long as it did.  If the aim of the movie was to create a visual and auditory assault on our senses, this succeeds where other movies have failed.  You don’t need gore to sell your point of visceral content, it just takes the use of our existing senses to create the effect.  Sound, visuals, and an unflinching eye keeps us glued to the screen, even what such horror takes place.

About Nick
I am just another blogger putting his thoughts into a website. My love is movies so most of my musings will be movie related. I work as an online marketer for an advertising company and when I am not earning a paycheck, I moonlight as a vigilante film blogger.

2 Responses to Movie of the Day – Irreversible

  1. Pingback: Movie Review – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo « Another Plot Device

  2. Pingback: Movie of the Day – Descent « Another Plot Device

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