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File:IrreversiblePoster 7166.jpg

 "Le temps détruit tout."[1]

Irreversible is a French 2002 film by Gaspar Noé. Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass. Her boyfriend and ex-lover take matters into their own hands by hiring two criminals to help them find the rapist so that they can exact revenge.

Similar to Memento, the film is in reverse chronological order, enabling it to show a simultaneously beautiful and terrible examination of the destructive nature of cause and effect, and how time destroys everything. To this day, the controversial rape scene is what the film tends be remembered for, rather than the backwards narrative and exploration of vengeance. There were reports that members of the audience walked out of the movie after becoming ill.

The film tends to elicit similar reactions from people. Others praised Noé's inventive camerawork, innovative use of sound and unflinching portrayal of horrific subject matter. Critical reception was divided, with some decrying its apparent lack of moral message and its willingness to wallow in the worst excesses of human behaviour.

This Film Provides Examples Of:

  • Visual Innuendo: The fire extinguisher was not chosen at random as a weapon, being a phallic symbol. Hence the fact that Pierre destroys the suspected rapist's head with extinguisher blows to avenge the rape of Alex.
  • Violence Is the Only Option: Subverted in that Pierre, the one who tries to talk Marcus out of violent retribution commits the shockingly brutal act that opens the film. This is only made all the more pointless and hollow when you go back through the story.
  • Trippy Finale Syndrome
  • Tragedy
  • Someone Elses Problem: While Alex is pinned to the floor and is quite obviously struggling to scream and get away, someone in the background walks into the underpass, looks at what's happening, and walks away.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The monologue at the beginning of the film is delivered by the incestuous Butcher who was the protagonist of Gaspar Noé's previous film Seul Contre Tous.
    • Also seen in Marcus and Alex's home is a poster for Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. Definitely an influence on the ending.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Marcus after discovering Alex has been raped.
  • Rape as Drama
  • Power Trio: Alex/Marcus/Pierre; Ego/Id/Super-Ego.
  • Pay Evil Unto Evil
  • The Oner: The film uses a lot of these. For example, the ten-minute rape-scene, which is all one long horrifying shot.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • When Pierre beats another man to death with a fire extinguisher. It's like watching personified concentrated rage.
    • Not to mention the beatdown that Alex gets from her rapist.
  • Meaningful Name: Le Tenia[2]
  • Lucky Complete Monster: Le Tenia is not the sort of rapist who stalks his victim and plans the attack, he quite literally happened to spot Alex and attacked her. He then proceeded to rape and beat her for nine minutes in a place where anyone could have discovered him and intervened, his grip slipped long enough for Alex to scream a couple of times, and someone actually did see what he was doing but walked away without doing anything (see Someone Elses Problem above). Despite all these opportunities to fail, he succeeds purely by luck. He is also a Karma Houdini thanks to a case of mistaken identity that he likewise didn't plan, and has apparently escaped the police despite not taking any precautions against leaving DNA evidence inside Alex.
    • The events of the whole movie are caused by luck. The attack happened simply because Alex happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the wrong time only by a very narrow margin: if she had entered that underpass thirty seconds earlier she would have gotten through it and been out on the other side before Le Tenia entered, and if she had gone in there thirty seconds later she would have seen Le Tenia beating the prostitute and known not to approach.
  • Karma Houdini: Le Tenia
  • Jerkass: Marcus. At times it's a hard to see why Alex is dating him at all. A point lampshaded by Pierre at one point in the film.
  • It Got Worse: Played with, due to the reverse chronology.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: The worst possible result of this happens to Alex, for nine uninterrupted minutes.
  • Happily Ever After: Inverted to the point of being Anvilicious.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Averted.
  • Gorn: Pierre's fire extinguisher beating.
    • Alex's ruined face after La Tenia's attack.
  • Genre Shift
  • Foregone Conclusion
  • Fan Disservice
  • Facial Horror: The fire extinguisher beating.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The pimp with a penchant for anal rape is only known as La Tenia.
  • Euroshlock: This film is part of the New French Extremity movement.
  • Disproportionate Retribution
  • Despair Event Horizon
  • Deconstruction
  • Crapsack World: While the first half of the film could certainly be said to take place in a hellish underworld, the film also gives us a look at a more innocent and idyllic vision of the world before it is shattered.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Marcus swears when he gets in a fight with the Asian cab driver.

 "You're throwing me out of the cab, you fucking Chink nancy? Gonna call your slant-eyed asshole friends? Bowl of rice shit, hurry or I'll fuck your ass! Go ream your shitass genetic code. Fucking Peking duck!"

  • Closing Credits: Following the backwards conceit to the fullest extent, the film opens with the closing credits which run backwards.
  • Berserk Button: Marcus has one which is in-keeping with his volatile nature... But you really, really, really don't want to ever piss Pierre off.
  • Brown Note: Infrasonics were deployed during the more disturbing scenes in the film.
    • Reportedly the film's use of infrasonics, along with the extreme graphic nature of the film's most notorious scenes and the dizzying camera work, were responsible for many people walking out of the film.
    • According to IMDB the infrasonics were placed in the film specifically to cause nausea.
  • Break the Cutie
  • The Bad Guy Wins
  • Badass Bookworm: Pierre.
  • Back to Front: The whole movie.

Notes

  1. "Time destroys everything."
  2. The Tapeworm
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