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Thread: Irreversible

  1. #1
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    Irreversible

    I wanted to see Irreversible, but I find it offputting.

    It's not the graphic violence - I've watched plenty of films that some would consider totally unpalatable, though I hear Irreversible is a special case in harshness.

    It's not the reviews. Any film like this is bound to generate a fir amount of animosity.

    It's not the rape scene. Again, I can handle it.

    It's not even the vomit-inducing shakycam, because I sat out Blair Witch and I can sit this out too. I mean, if it really is that horrendous, I can always wait for video.

    The problem - the problem that everyone seems loathe to admit - is that it looks absolutely rubbish. I mean, we've got Gaspar Noe claiming this film is about real life, when there's a gay club called 'The Rectum', for God's sake, full of leather-clad perverted sadists masturbating openly, laughing at a vicious beating and - the most telling detail - trying to rape a man who attacks them. Ooh, that's what those queers do to you, you know! Do something bad to youand they try to 'do' you! And for the sake of what? Bland fortune-cookie philosophising about how nothing lasts forever and rape is apparently unpleasant.

    It may, I suppose, be a staggering work of art. Empire magazine appeared to reach orgasm just reviewing it. But really, seriously, isn't life too short to sit through another adolescent fantasy about evil gays?
    Perfume V - he tries, bless him.

  2. #2
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    Finally watched it. It's even worse than I thought. May IMDb review can be found here: http://comments.imdb.com/CommentsShow?0290673-77

    I can honestly say that anyone who attempts to give a positive review to this film ought to be ashamed of themselves.
    Perfume V - he tries, bless him.

  3. #3
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    That sounds like a bet !

    This film is perhaps one of the best films of the past 10 years.

    I cant believe you said that "Irreversible" looks rubbish.
    The beautifull flying camera shots, feel like you are floating in the air observing the characters like a ghost, unable to do anything, but watch.

    The lightning is incredible, showing you almost nothing, but the essential. Noe chooses very specifically for the images you are showing and he knows exactly which image gets the needed reaction.

    In the parts where you go back in time, the camera seems to take you there. It's alive and it grabs your hand to show you the story the way it has to be told.
    He flies through buildings, windows, cars with very smart use of movement and special effects. Especially the scene in the stolen cab shows a brilliant use of special effects in combination with (emotionally) moving camera.

    The most controversial scene is shown through a perfectly chosen frame, showing enough to let the viewer know what is going on and experiencing what is happening. But at the same time it almost doesnt show you any nakedness, focusing just on the faces of the 2 people in the subway tunnel.
    Again great use of lighting and camera, when a person walks in on the scene and you only see his silhouette in the distance, standing out against the red.

    Noe then shows that he can also make chemistry work on screen and isnt after just shocking his public.
    Great dialogue and acting in the scene at the party, allready forshadowing the reactions of the ex boyfriend in the first scene.
    And Monica Belucci plays her best part ever in the bedroom scene. She and Vincent Cassel are so in love with each other and it isnt fake or overly emotional... its just right.

    When you cant imagine being moved any more, when this film allready has triggered every emotion in existence... it does.
    The last scene just takes hold of everything inside and lets it explode.
    The beatifull scenery shown is just so full of dirt by everything that you have shown before this scene and will happen after this moment.
    His tribute ( perhaps not the right use of the word here) to Kubrick's 2001 isnt an attempt of Noe to show his artistic abilities, but its just the last piece of the puzzle, which completes the movie.


    The only negative comment i have is that it wasnt necessary to show that Monica Belucci is pregnant. There are enough hints throughout the film allready and this was just over exposure and eventually leads to the worst (which isnt so bad at all, but its the worst one of all the scenes) acted scene of Ireversible.


    In conclusion.
    Irreversible was a very exhousting film, grabbing you by the throat and never letting go.
    By just saying it was over the top and it doesnt show you a correct image of the world, is too simple.
    It sometimes is over the top and it does show in a sense, a distorded image of our world, but it does that with a reason.

    If you have seen "Seul contre tous", you know that Noe plays with the bigoted opinions of the masses and in the case of the gay club "rectum" i think he deliberatly made it this campy, sado massochistic pit of hell. Just because it is seen in this way by so many people.

    Even if you do not agree with Gaspar Noe, he does make you think and how many movies do that nowadays ?

  4. #4
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    He didn't make me think at all. Here's a summary of what I learned from Irreversible:

    1. Gays are different from other people.
    2. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
    3. Rape is painful.

    It's not exactly brainfood, is it? Gaspar Noe might one day be a good director - note that I did at least give the film credit on a technical level, it's undoubtedly the best-executed bad movie I've seen in a long while - but this will only happen when he grows up.

    EDIT: Incidentally, though I think she's a great actress, I'd question your assessment of the bedroom scene between Bellucci and Cassel as containing great acting. Considering that they're married, it can't have been too hard for them to pretend to be attracted to each other.
    Last edited by Perfume V; 03-10-2003 at 10:42 AM.
    Perfume V - he tries, bless him.

  5. #5
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    Originally posted by Perfume V
    EDIT: Incidentally, though I think she's a great actress, I'd question your assessment of the bedroom scene between Bellucci and Cassel as containing great acting. Considering that they're married, it can't have been too hard for them to pretend to be attracted to each other.
    Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise didnt pull it off.
    And if you ask me Monica Belucci isnt such a great actress. She isn't too bad, but her carreer is mostly based on her looks.
    Her best role was in Doberman, but only because she was a deaf-mute. Ok, thats a bit harsh, but you get the point.


    1. Gays are different from other people.
    2. Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
    3. Rape is painful.

    You went into this film biased and i guess you didnt change your opinion. Its a shame cause the film offers so much more than what you saw.

    The last couple of years street violence in Europe has grown and it has become one of the main items in politics.
    Extreme right wing parties grabbed their chances and used this unrest among the people to fuel the rage against minority groups, like gay people and immigrants.
    Especially in France, where LePen got a huge amount of votes, which shocked Europe and people where allready making connections with Hitler and 1940 Germany.

    With this film Noe puts his finger right on the spot where Europe bleeds and does this with extreme force, to make sure this wake up call gets noticed.

  6. #6
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    IRREVERSIBLE (Contains spoilers)

    I find both views expressed above to be extremist. I would have great difficulty making the case that Irreversible is "one of the best films of the past 10 years" and calling the dialogue "great" is hyperbolic. On the other hand, it's quite presumptuous to say "anyone who attempts to give it a positive review should be ashamed...". Perfume V , who is also dismissive of classics like LAST TANGO IN PARIS, was offended by explicit images and by details such as the rapist patronizing a club called Rectum. Others simply believe that some aspects of human experience should be off limits to artists.
    IRREVERSIBLE is Gaspar Noe's follow-up to Seul Contre Tous aka I Stand Alone, a debut that asks us to get inside the head of a racist butcher who has sex with his mentally challenged daughter. In one scene, he beats his pregnant mistress and says:"Now your baby's hamburger, bitch! The new film features Vincent Cassel (Hate, Elizabeth, Read my Lips) as a man who seeks to avenge the vicious rape of his girlfriend(Monica Belluci of Malena fame). There are good reasons why many won't want to watch it. But the film has things to say about our inability to undo the consequences of violence, about the futility of revenge, maybe the seeds of fascism,etc. This may not be novel but the film is not there just to send people out of the theatre early. I was glad to be made uncomfortable by the violence here. How many times have we watched depictions of murder and rape in film that glamorize violence, or make it palatable, even acceptable. TAXI DRIVER is still gorgeous,but now I recognize the immoral revenge fantasy at its heart. IRREVERSIBLE's reverse narrative structure, refuses to allow us any such catharsis. For instance, we see the act of revenge before the rape that propels it so we don't feel vindicated by it. The impact of the two central violent acts in the film is amplified at the end when we learn that an innocent person was executed, and that there is yet another victim whose existence had yet to be revealed to us.
    I do feel that some aesthetic decisions seem to distract from whatever the film tries to say. I'm thinking about those showy 360 degree vertical pans, the 16 mm film stock,etc. but I'm not sure. I am trying to figure out why many critics seem to ignore the signicant fact that an innocent man gets beaten to death and the rapist goes free. Maybe the implications of this need to be clearer. Maybe Mr. Noe is interested in things he can't fully explain.

  7. #7
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    Late viewing of Gaspar Noë's Irréversible

    Gaspar Noë's Irréversible.

    Watching this for the first time on a Netflix DVD I was able to look more closely at its structure, but also was robbed of whatever shock, surprise, or revulsion I might have experienced had I seen it originally in a theater. Here are my comments.

    The "Tenia" chapter, in which the man is beaten to death with a fire hose or anti-fire device, is straight out of a gay S & M porno movie -- even to the music, which is not original, as some might think who have not seen such movies, but quite typical, perhaps accidentally, since gay porno movies, especially the more extreme S & M kind, are just as arty as this, though of course they would show more of the "action" -- but this does show "action," and of the same kind as you find in an extreme hardcore gay porno movie. The creepy addition is that in Noë's movie, the plot element added is that two guys are seriously hunting down somebody to beat up or kill, and that the guys at the charmingly named "RECTUM" club are turned on by this unexpected bonus to their evening, and love the violence done to several of them by Marcus (Vincent Cassel) and Pierre (Aalbert Duportel). Watching the sequences carefully one can spot the rapist. He is present as an observer, but of course is not the one who gets his face beaten in by Pierre.

    The irony is that all evening Marcus has been hyper and over the top. And Pierre is a repressed intellectual type -- though his self mocking tormenting of Alex (Monica Bellucci), his ex, and Marcus, his best buddy who has "stolen" Alex away from him, over whether they have orgasms together is the most amusing dialogue in the movie and shows him becoming less and less repressed. But in the RECTUM sequence, it's Pierre who bashes the man's face in and kills him.

    At times, especially in the opening, post-rape, sequences (in the reverse-chronological order of the editing), what Cassel seems to be doing is not acting, but acting-out. He's extremely good at it, though; I guess yoiu could call it a kind of method acting, and the Métro-car sequence is quite brilliant, and so is the party sequence, where nobody, least of all Cassel, seems to be acting at all. Bellucci's and Cassel's post-coital scene is natural and uninhibited and rather nice; no doubt the fact that they were a couple at the time helps, though that wouldn't make it easy if they weren't well trained actors, especially Cassel, who has more to do and lets it all hang out literally, without any sense of bad taste or gracelessness.

    Yes, the 360-degree camera spins are annoying, but yes, they are also used with a certain thematic skill, heavy-handed though it may be, to "symbolize" some sort of descent into the "vortex of hell," or something of the kind. The final chapter, chronologically the first, spins around overhead with kids running near Alex on the grass, and we've gone from XXXX gay under-the-counter S & M porno to David Hamilton/Hallmark card schlock.

    Yes, there's a lot of skill on view here, in the acting, in the camerawork, and the editing at least is logical. And the result is successful in being thought-provoking. But all I mean by that is that it sharpens our abilities to watch movies a bit, not that the stuff about "time destroys all" or the possible hints of themes about guilt, revenge, etc are really worth giving much thought to; the actual story line and character development are so minimal that there's nothing much about human experience dealt with here.

    The raw experiences of rape and violent murder are thrown in your face so vividly that you may be moved to think about these kinds of events. The situation of two best friends of the type of Marcus and Pierre and one woman who's moved from one to the other, going out to a party and that leading to dangerous feelings and acting out and risky, horribly misguided actioins -- this is a situation of great potential -- if dealt with in a real film. This is not a real film. For all its skill, it's arty trash, and the many critics both French and American who have said so are right, even if they have overreacted in some cases. I'm not sure what Rosenbaum means by saying it "has redeeming facet" -- what? I think he means the technical skills exhibited. I'm pretty sure that Ebert's argument that the reverse chronology keeps this from being pornography is silly, because it's so obvious, and unnecessary. This isn't pornography. It's just a movie made, as others have said, out of the bad-boy aim of shocking (which Cassel, to judge by his obvious fun making this picture, must have shared). I'm glad I have finally seen this, and it isn't as horrible as I had feared, or as important as some seem to think. And I hope, as one or two other reviewers have already said, that this pretense that reversing chronoology in a film offers some kind of profound insight will be dropped now. It's no more than a gimmick whose time has come and gone, and it's not the same as the Rashomon-technique, which has enormous value as a storytelling device and is timeless.

    The rape, by the way, is entirely from the point of view of the rapist, insofar as it is from the point of view of either party.

  8. #8
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    Wow this is an old bump. I've seen the film twice, and would have posted my comments here had I known there was a thread for it. It is a very gimmicky film, but an effective one, the rape scene stays with you, and the film is graphic. I admired the long takes and the way it was constructed most of all.

  9. #9
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    You can find the threads using the search function

    I haven't seen Noë's previous film, whose main character is in the opening sequence of Irréversible. Since it's one of the Netflix French DVD's, I probably will. It sounds even more repugnant than this one.

    The thing I have doubts about from my comment above is calling it arty trash. That's rather simplistic. I don't exactly know what to call it. But the trouble with it is that it is not only about shocking material, a brutal killing and a rape, but it is designed to shock. That isn't necessary, and doing it that way arouse doubts about the filmmaker's motives and causes one to question his good sense. For example, the material in Gregg Araki's Mysterious Skin of this year is shocking, particularly a brutal beating by a john of the main character and the seduction of young boys by a man. But the scenes are not staged to shock. There is no sense in presenting a rape because it shocks people. You need to present the rape in spite of the fact that it shocks people, and try to lead the audience beyond their shock into understanding. It's only by going beyond the shock that you can think rationally about what you are witnessing. Only the dumbest kind of movies try to harp on their shock value, keep the audience from thinking. Noë seems to have done something like what a horror movie maker does, but using more artistic methods (but horror movie methods are often artistic, as for instance in the ingenious devices used by the makers of The Blair Witch Project.) But "trash" doesn't express all this.

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