La Nouvelle Vague (French New Wave) took the world by surprise in the late 1950s with its defiance of what was referred to as Cinéma de Papa (fatherly cinema). The innovations in both technique and narration changed the face of cinema. The “New French Extreme” appeared in the early 2000s and like La Nouvelle Vague challenged the notion of French cinema that revolved around ideas and relegated the body to a metaphor for an idea. The body was now the central theme and fantasy that was once avoided was now openly embraced. All this is shown through acts of incredible violence and sexual debauchery. Irréversible is one of the more popular films of the movement and is commonly referred to as “the most shocking movie of all time”.

Like the majority of French films, the plot is of secondary importance and the representation takes precedence over what is being represented. At its heart it’s a “rape and revenge” tale gone wrong but it is the way that this is shown that is important. Like Memento chronological narration is thrown away as every scene is shown in reverse chronological order. One shot per scene with the transitions from scene to scene being made obvious for all. The later half of the film feels natural due to the semi-improvised dialogue and the mundane situations that put the whole beginning of the movie into context. While sloppy and a bit too meandering, the honesty and the naivety of the characters during these moments works very powerfully as a twisted climax that makes the horror of the beginning even more poignant as average individuals are pushed to their limits after the notorious rape scene.

From a technical point of view the use of sound and light is incredible as the soundtrack is full of barely noticeable background music consisting of low frequencies that create unease and mesh well with the gritty and dirty surroundings. The red strobe lights colours the violent scenes in a hellish tone. The camera twirls around often and is just as agitated as the characters on screen. During a scene in which a fire extinguisher is used to crush a man’s skull, the camera moves in complete synchronisation with the fire extinguisher in what is the greatest portrayal of violence on camera of all time. The viewer is forced to feel every hit as the camera stops just long enough to see the deteriorating condition of the man’s skull. In the infamous ten minute rape scene between a homosexual pimp and a woman that drives the non sexual character of rape to the forefront of this encounter, the camera sits completely still as a passerby quickly turns around instead of helping as the violence is shown in the most natural way possible.

Through the reverse chronological order, the viewer is exposed to character motivations and other elements in much more significant ways as these little devices allow what seems like an empty story to truly unfold in its harrowing and truly horrifying vision. Despite its flaws Irréversible is an excellent movie that needs to be watched at least once by every Hessian as it shows that the greatest horror is not that of psychotic killers, supernatural monsters or voodoo curses but the pain of irredeemable actions.

Le temps détruit tout

Tags: , , , ,

21 thoughts on “Irréversible”

  1. gaylord says:


  2. canadaspaceman says:

    Well, if want want a rape scene of a hot woman, then I guess this one of Monica Bellucci will more than satisfy you. Look for it on a porn site.
    The rest of the “Irréversible” movie is pure garbage.

    Homosexuality, male nudity, and mostly shitty camera work that is a million times worse than the Blair Witch project.
    Why is it a plain black screen many times throughout this stupid movie?

    1. it’s much more than a rape scene.

    2. Its not gay if you do it 4 pay says:

      So basically all frog cinema.

  3. John Lennon says:

    you wanna watch a good one check out Dillinger Is Dead

  4. Birkenhain says:

    Stop watching movies

    1. ^stupid says:

      stop reading

      1. ^absolutefaggot says:


        1. ^absolutenonsense says:


            1. Birkenhain says:

              Thanks, slave rapist.

  5. Hail Our Dark Lord Of Light And Master Of The Earth Satan

  6. Mettuhl says:

    needs to be watched at least once by every Hessian as it shows that the greatest horror is not that of psychotic killers, supernatural monsters or voodoo curses but the pain of irredeemable actions.

    Wise. But is it metal?

    Metal reacts angrily to avoidance and cowardice. It doesn’t seem interested in the consequences of the opposite evil.

    I haven’t seen the movie, though.

    1. Slayer says:

      Nostalgia, melancholy, depression because of irredeemable actions are only expressions of passive nihilism.

      Metal visits all the dark emotions but at its best it is an affirmation of power. The greatest horror only comes when you’ve lost the will to fight. This doesn’t really come up in metal – except maybe bad metal like blackgaze pussy-crap.

      1. Bowelgaze says:

        Did you forget doom metal?

  7. bookworm says:

    Movies are indeed shit as it takes too much time to find the actual good ones in the 99% trash that comes out these days. The real good ones have a script based on classical literature or are an ‘auteur’ production, but even with a good script the movie can only do so much and some ‘auteur’ stuff is just intellectual masturbation. Fuck movies. Books kick ass.

    However Irreversible was indeed a very good and extreme cinematic experience. Everyone was flipping out because of the rape scene, but I’ve seen and read more extreme shit in war movies (Come and See – 1985) and literature. You should also check out Angst (1983) which was the ultimate inspiration for Noe’s films.

    1. darth vaper says:

      no way, a good movie is one of lifes finer points, and you can usually tell in minutes if its gonna be gay

    2. Schwein says:

      Movies are indeed shit as it takes too much time to find the actual good ones in the 99% trash that comes out these days.

      Is that really that much different from other art forms?

      much and some ‘auteur’ stuff is just intellectual masturbation.

      Again, is that really that much different from other art forms?

      1. rodeo says:

        Irrelevant. First of all a movie needs a good story, which is then enhanced with parts of music stolen from the greats (Wagner) and perhaps tinged with poetry and themes also stolen from the greats (Shakespeare). At this point they are still just a pastiche of better art forms – although they might make for very good flashy entertainment. We’d still be better off replacing them with good books, good music and recorded theater and poetry.

        A great movie however finds its own mode of expression. In that sense Irreversible is technically a really great movie. I would also say that some action movies of the 60s and 70s are also totally awesome for their spirit and for the simple adrenaline rush that those car chase scenes can give that you could not experience in real life or in the age of stupid digital effects.

  8. Harked Back says:

    Glad you acknowledged a great and horrendous film

  9. Gorge says:

    The rape scene in this movie turns me on, how helpless she is and passerby not helping, as well as when he starts smashing her head on the pavement. It is a true depiction of the state of reality, that the strong can crush the weak and there is no intervening divine force of good nor even a conscious observer to our pains of existence. You’re never really in full possession of your moments as they are constantly slipping into the past.

Comments are closed.

Classic reviews: