There was a time when movies moved us to a true emotion, whether it be anger, disgust, happiness, or sadness, movies truly affected the audience in a real way. Now, in an era where most films are run through the studio machine and had most of their effectiveness removed in favor of a cotton candy, khaki slacks and a Volvo, politically correct presentation movies don’t really effect at all. Occasionally a movie is released, almost always foreign, that manages to be once again effective. Irreversible happens to be effective in a revolting sort of way and in the end a very sad sort of way.
Irreversible is told in a gimmicky fashion that initially seems to be just that, a gimmick, but at the end is surprisingly effective to the story.
The story is a simple one that we have seen many times before, especially in 70’s exploitation type films. A young woman is raped and her boyfriend and friend seek revenge. The gimmick kicks in right away as the film is presented in reverse even with the closing credits rolling in reverse at the beginning of the film.
The gimmick to all part of the theme of the film, some things are irreversible, some tragedies are unforgivable, unforgettable, and irreversible. The climax of the film happens at the beginning of the film with the revenge for the rape happening in one of the most violent scenes ever put on film. Our hero brutally attacks the man he thinks is responsible for the rape. Then the story works its way backward showing the results of the rape, and then the rape itself. It’s a very disturbing way to see the story unfold as I saw her (Monica Belluci) on the gurney I imagined what must have happened to her then all to soon I actually saw it happen. The rape scene is dirty and it feels way to real, it’s not glossy and all Zalman King, it’s real.
The movie evokes emotions in an uncomfortable way. As I saw the rape happen, I felt the anger that the character at the beginning of the film felt as he killed the rapist. And as the movie continues to move backward through the events of this single day it provided more insight to who the characters were and what their relationships were. The very quite almost happy ending to the film made it that much more sad as I realized what horrible acts Belluci’s character would suffer, the emotions her friends would go through, and the consequences they would inevitably pay. The ending is quiet, powerful, and overwhelmingly sad.
There is another stylistic choice that in the beginning is almost nausea educing until you get used to it. The camera is always moving and instead of cuts it seems to simply float out of one scene into another. It really bothered me for about the first five minutes of the film. After that it felt very natural and almost calming considering the aggressive nature of the film.
A lot of buzz fluttered around this film because of Monica Belluci’s appearance in the Matrix films. She’s become something of a sex symbol among fan boys and since she is nude in this film they all had to see it. This may have sold some tickets but it detracted from what should be the true focus of the film, the story and the presentation. This isn’t a sexy film, it’s gritty, aggressive, and disturbing.
It’s hard to say this is a great film but it is. It’s successful in taking a story and themes that have been done many times in the 60’s and 70’s a presenting them in a fresh way. Most films of this type end with a sense of hope or at least satisfaction that revenge has been dealt out to those who deserve it but not this film. Due to the order of the story telling in those closing moments all I could think of is there is no hope, what I have seen will happen to this young woman and her whole world will end as she knows it now.
The order of the story effects everything in the film. After the rape scene we see Belluci at a party drinking and dressed in a somewhat revealing way. Normally this would be considered sexy and fun but since we know what will happen to her it is heartbreaking. Women should get to dress however they want but is it always the wisest decision to dress provocatively when you may have to travel home alone? Later we see her and her boyfriend in bed naked together (husband at the time Vincent Cassel) laughing and in love and it to isn’t erotic, it is sad because we know what will happen.
It’s definitely not for everyone because it is such a hard watch. But for those who can get through it a unique experience awaits with this film.
The widescreen presentation offers good color balance but there is a substantial amount of grain (other than the grain the filmmaker intended) and softness in detail in darker scenes. The lighter color palette of the last quarter of the movie looks very nice though.
It’s pretty heavily front loaded but dialogue, sound effects, and score are all cleanly mixed and free of distortion. Some nightclub and crowd scenes do make use of the wide soundstage.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The artwork for the amaray case is terrible. It plays up on Monica Belluci’s rather tight dress and that’s it. To me it’s very misleading.
There’s only an extended trailer and two useless music videos. That’s it. The menus are pretty cool and they fit right in with the theme of the film.
Overall the DVD presentation is not great but the movie is groundbreaking.
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10
The Movie 8/10
The Video 7/10
The Audio 7/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 1/10
Overall (Not an Average) 8/10