In Fragile Things, his anthology of short stories, both fictitious and true, Neil Gaiman opens a tale entitled “The Flints of Memory Lane,” by stating “I like things to be story-shaped- Reality, however, is not story-shaped.” By the tale’s end- Gaiman’s real experience with a possible ghost- the reader understands the author’s point that events in the real world “do not end in entirely satisfactory ways.” French director Gaspar Noe undoubtedly understands Gaiman’s sentiment. IRREVERSIBLE is neither “story-shaped,” nor does it end in any way that could be considered “satisfactory.” It is one of the most aptly titled films in recent memory, not just because the entire film plays backward in reverse chronological order, but also because watching it is indeed an irreversible endeavor. Passing itself off as “art drama” (according to its wiki page), the movie is closer to revenge-horror, in the same vein as other flicks that unrepentantly bear their “horror” badges with pride, including THE LAST HOUSE ON THE LEFT, I SPIT ON YOUR GRAVE, and THE DEVIL’S REJECTS to name a few; but, where those horror classics were crucified critically, IRREVERSIBLE somehow gets a pass, perhaps due to Noe’s novel, “artistic” approach toward shooting his film, which is undoubtedly distinct, but it is also an increasingly nauseating, anxiety-inducing, and sometimes annoying viewing experience. The film is essentially one long pre-BIRDMAN shot, or at least that’s the illusion Noe presents to his audience (it is edited to look unedited), as the camera swings up and down, left and right, panning over brick walls, buildings, pitch blackness, and light fixtures, before occasionally slowing down to focus on the action of the film. In his commentary, Noe notes that this was an attempt to make the viewer feel almost as a spirit or entity, floating above and around events as they happen. At first, it sort of works as a novelty, but the manic-maneuvering quickly wears thin as the story progresses and minutes tick by. On a big screen, the experience is torturous. Adding to the discomfort of the audience is the movie’s soundtrack, created by one half of Daft Punk, who could easily be an advisor to members of the military who wish to use music for “enhanced interrogations.” The industrial noise meshes with the swinging and swaying camera in a way that brings back memories of nights when I shouldn’t have had that last tequila shot at the club I’m too old to be in. When the swooping camera does cease, no solace is found, as these are the moments during which some of the most brutally violent acts of the film occur, with none more gut-wrenching than Monica Bellucci’s notorious rape scene. Here, the camera remains motionless as we watch her character endure a sickeningly long rape and an endless, merciless beating at the hands of a complete stranger in an underground passage. Like all of the scenes of violence in IRREVERSIBLE, it is disturbingly realistic and extremely difficult to watch. It is, nevertheless, a pivotal moment, as it begins to add motive to memorable actions that precede it (or follow it if the film was played in correct order). Still, the sequence is just a little too real, a little too long, and a little too brutal, and one cannot help but sense an underlying sort of hatred here, and indeed, throughout the entire movie. It isn’t always easy to pinpoint the feelings that a filmmaker wishes to convey through his work, but in this case, hatred is not far off target. It is a hatred of women, of homosexuals (who make up all of the film’s villains), and of an audience that doesn’t look away. This in turn, makes the viewer hate the film right back, especially by its last moments, when we realize how much has been lost to a truly fruitless attempt at revenge and the slew of bad decisions that left the characters barreling toward events that cannot be taken back. IRREVERSIBLE doesn’t quite fit a specific genre. It refuses to call itself horror, gaining praise and respect as “art” due to its noble attempt at making the viewing experience truly an experience. It is a strangely brave film, being so utterly unforgiving, and bleakly realistic in a fashion similar to Michael Haneke’s much maligned FUNNY GAMES, minus any humor or fourth wall breaches to spur unintended self-reflection among its audience members. Nevertheless, the film’s latent (and occasionally more obvious) threads of hatred and homophobia only serve to upset and shock the viewer, and this, combined with its camera-work, makes it an unrelenting assault to the senses, which is far too difficult to endure. It is a truly unique viewing experience, with an ending that, if you catch it, is at once surprising and infuriating, but for all of its merits, its perhaps unwitting, or perhaps intentional projection of hate, unrelated to the plot, make it extremely hard to really favor the film itself. So, after my third attempt to pick a position on the picture, my advice is this: watch IRREVERSIBLE if you’re interested…or dredge the depths on the web and watch one of the thousands of videos depicting real-world violence. I’d wager either option will induce the same emotions, but neither one will make you feel any better about your choice of entertainment. See larger image Irreversible Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel. A harrowing tale of one fateful night in the life of an average couple, told through inventive camera techniques and imaginative storytelling in reverse chronological order. 2003/color/97 min/UR/widescreen. New From: $5.50 USD In Stock Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.