Skip to content

The Greatest Movies I’ve Never Seen #3: Irreversible

by gwolinetz on November 15th, 2013

Ten years ago, on YPR, Josh and I co-wrote a ridiculous piece (pseudonymously credited to Bobby Rufferto) called “My Dinner with Bellucci and Bellow“, which posited a ludicrous scenario in which the author had soup with a naked Monica Bellucci and surly Saul Bellow. I feel like at the time we’d read an article or something (I’m too lazy to Google it) that had them connected in some way other than the fact that their names are homophonic and that they both speak French. In truth, I’m sure they never met, or if they did, never collaborated in any way. But to us, the idea of the old perv and pretty young woman made for nice theater. In re-reading the piece, it’s still ridiculous and kind of funny. I approve.

Anyway, I stumbled on the original draft of that old YPR piece and it made me remember that, at the time, Bellucci was in two movies where she was naked for a significant portion of the film (which is the reason we had her naked in the piece): Irreversible and Le Pacte du Loups (Brotherhood of the Wolf). I figured I’d watch one of them as part of this series. Irreversible was the only one available on Netflix streaming.

And once I began watching it, I remembered why I’d decided not to see it in the first place. The film is absolutely disturbing. I mean, it’s just difficult to watch on so many different levels. Start with the cinematography. The way the first third of the movie is shot, I wanted to throw up. It’s on purpose, obviously, and I’m assuming meant to convey the anger, how out of control the guy is, etc, but I’m surprised that I didn’t succumb to an epileptic seizure. Not only that, the brutality of the film is just horrifying. I don’t even know how I made it through the first 20-25 minutes. It’s just a horrifically disturbing film at the beginning.

And for a while, it downshifts into a decent narrative (“decent” may be the wrong word, let’s just say it leveled off). The camera settles down and it’s a bit easier to watch. You’re following the story in reverse, so each scene builds on the one before it by revealing some information about the scene that came immediately before it.

Then it shifts into a whole new disturbing level.

Without getting too graphic, the scene that features Monica Bellucci’s attack is disturbing on so many different levels, you have to wonder how the director could even sit there and watch it, despite knowing it’s fake. The scene lasts so long that I got uncomfortable and then settled down, only to get uncomfortable again like three different times. And the fact that it’s shot backward ain’t doing us any favors either, because we realize (spoiler alert) that the guy they spent so much effort chasing down and dispatching in the opening, isn’t even the guy that did it. That guy fucking gets away with it. This scene goes on so long that I actually got up to get some water, hoping it would be done when I got back, and a full 3 minutes later, it was still fucking going on (no pun intended). And then you find out all of the character background as the movie winds down, and it becomes absolutely fucking heartbreaking.

In the end, I’d call it a good movie, but I mean that in a truly clinical way. i think they made a good movie. I just found it absolutely horrifying (I keep using that word, but I really mean it). It gets an A for the effort, but an F for rewatchability. I’m never going to see this movie again.

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Note: XHTML is allowed. Your email address will never be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS