Irréversible (Reverse Order Rape Revenge Thriller)


Sooner or later, everything you know and love will be taken from you. When it happens, the only thing that separates you from everyone else is how you react. Do you suck up your pride and cry into your beer? Do you pack up and take matters into your own hands? Once you do, do you even care who gets hurt in your wake? That’s the mentality behind Gaspar Noe’s Irréversible, an absolutely devastating experience that kicked off the French “New Extreme” movement in grand style. While Noe has certainly grown as a filmmaker and artist since 2003 (check my review of Vortex for an example of just how great this guy’s films have become,) he has yet to match the ferocity and attitude of his earlier films. This is one of the rarest things in the cinema; a car crash where Exploitation and Art meet head on. 


Alex (the gorgeous Monica Belluci) is walking down a tunnel after a blistering argument with her boyfriend Marcus (Vincent Cassel.) Sadly, she makes the acquaintance of a shadowy figure known only as “La Tenia” who proceeds to rape and beat her within an inch of her life. Marcus finds Alex being wheeled into the ambulance and vows to make someone pay. Did I mention that the story is told backwards? The original slogan for this film translates as “Time Destroys All Things” and that’s a fitting descriptor for what goes on in Irréversible. By the end, what seems to be a wildly unpredictable rape-revenge thriller transcends the genre trappings and becomes a haunting meditation on love, loss, relationships and the sad unpredictable nature of life. Be forewarned that there is no boundary this movie does not cross and you will see things that you will wish you could forget. Released theatrically and on video by Lionsgate back in 2003, Irréversible makes it’s US Blu-ray debut in a stunning new restoration from new distributor Altered Innocence. Shot on 16mm and finished on HD before being blown up to Super 35, it’s amazing how smooth and crisp the image is. The audio is equally amazing, giving remarkable clarity and wallop to Tomas Bangalter’s pounding score. The most notable extra comes in the capable hands of scholar Alexandra Heller-Nicolas, who contributed a superb video essay on the film to this release. If you haven’t seen Irréversible yet, put your life on hold and check it out. To more adventurous viewers, I can dare you to watch this thing through a VR headset for a real mind fuck of an experience. Enjoy!


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Written by David, Comptroller of Your Last Scrap of Existence

Irreversible (2002, 2023 Blu-ray)
Director: Gaspar Noe
Distributor: Bounty Films
5 / 5