Thursday, November 29, 2012


This past week I watched a movie by experimental "punk nihilist" filmmaker Gaspar Noé called "Irréversible." I was intrigued because I'd already seen another of Noé's films a couple years ago, his mind-bending virtual acid trip of a movie, "Enter The Void." Irréversible was very similar in the way it was shot, complete with disorienting 720 degree camera movements and gritty depiction of urban life. Irréversible even has an ultra low-frequency soundtrack (done by Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk) designed to unsettle the audience. I'd first heard of this film when I was reading A.V. Club's Inventory of "Great Films Too Painful To Watch Twice." The fact that this film was included in this list should tip you off to what kind of movie this is.

"Irréversible" starts at the end, "Memento" style, and works its way backwards. As the film opens we see an enraged Vincent Cassel frantically searching for a man named "La Tenia" through a gay nightclub in Paris. Cassel believes he's found him and engages in a crazy violent brawl. It isn't until later that we find out the source of his fury. Cassel, his girlfriend played by Monica Bellucci, and another friend are at a party when Bellucci finds herself frustrated with Cassel's obnoxious inebriation and decides to leave the party by herself. We see her unsuccessfully try and hail a taxi before giving up and deciding to make the fatal mistake of walking home alone by way of an underpass. When Bellucci enters, she encounters a man who brutally rapes and beats her. The whole thing is done in one shot, lasting nearly 10 horrible minutes. After, the film continues to go back in time, where we see Cassel and Bellucci in their apartment, completely happy and in love. The sickest thing is seeing both of these characters' pure, untouched lives when all the while we know the horror that awaits them.

The film has been deemed by many people to be unwatchable because of the violence and plain horrible scenarios it depicts. However, as hard as this movie was to sit through, I thought it was extremely well done and very interesting. As Roger Ebert pointed out in his review of the movie, the film forces us to think about the fragility of life. He says, "What a slender thread all happiness depends on.. and to know the future would not be a blessing but a curse. Life would be unlivable without the innocence of our ignorance."

Seeing this film, in addition to "Enter The Void," has made me really intrigued by Noé's work. He is a very unorthodox director, and his intent is to make audiences experience film in a new, albiet, disturbing and uncomfortable ways. Noé has been rumored to currently be working on the Brett Easton Ellis penned "Golden Suicides" as well as working with Ryan Gosling and Nicolas Winding Refn's "Only God Forgives." I'm interested to see what he does in the future.

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