DIRECTED BY Gaspar Noé
STARRING Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci, Albert Dupontel
Opened January 31, Cert 18, 95 mins
You probably heard about this shock-rocking rape-and-revenge drama from the stir it caused on the festival circuit. And for once, controversy and PC posturing are not being orchestrated into a publicity stunt. Irréversible is as visceral, graphic and wrenchingly full-on as advance word suggests. "This is not art," one person screamed at a Cannes screening, "this is shit!" But this is art about shit—and spunk, blood, sweat, fisting, and primal lust for vengeance.
Irréversible is brilliantly assembled, with less than a dozen cuts in total. Unfolding in reverse order, each scene is a single extended shot from a seasick-making hand-held camera. The story begins at the end with a savage assault in a Parisian gay S&M club. Spooling backwards, the events which led Marcus (Cassel) and Pierre (Dupontel) to such extremes become clear. The gruelling rape of Alex (Bellucci) is shown in full as the 10-minute core of the movie. A real-life couple, Cassel and Belluci bring an extra charge of harrowing truth to proceedings.
How can a film about sadistic sexual violation be this exhilarating and stylised? But such hair-splitting misses the point that this is a highly moral film with clearly defined villains and victims. Provocative? Maybe. But also a film that is deadly serious about its subject and, just as importantly, about the art of cinema.
Rating: 3 / 10