I haven’t seen Irreversible in close to a decade yet it still managed to be even more of a punishing experience upon rewatch. Noe’s helter skelter camerawork might be the most nauseating in film history and when all is said and done you can’t help but feel violated and abused both mentally and physically. This is a true assault on the senses. Bangalter’s score slaughters and scrapes your eardrums while Deboit and Noe’s visuals spiral out of control. Admittedly the first half is dizzying while the second slows to a more tranquil state which is where the reverse structure comes in handy. If the film unfolded chronologically it would have come close to being unbearable but inverted it is exhilarating.
Bellucci’s beauty is used to devastating effect here and the bravery she showcases in this performance is extraordinary. What she endures is about as pure a showcase of feminine strength and durability as I’ve ever seen. The notorious rape scene is probably among the most sickening sequences ever filmed (wow there’s a lot of hyperbole in this review) but I never felt it was being provocative for the sake of it. It fucking breaks you down something fierce.
As a big fan of visceral, subjective cinema it’s no surprise that I’m a fan of Irreversible but it’s impossible to actually enjoy. Some will find the sensory abuse thrilling while others with see it as repugnant. Either way, at least it’s an experience.