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Directed by Gaspar Noé.
Written by Gaspar Noé.
Starring Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel. 
Release Year:  2002 
Review Date:  3/18/03 


Don’t take what I am about to tell you lightly.

Out of all of the movies I have ever seen, EVER SEEN, I am absolutely positive that NONE of them have two scenes as powerful, as shocking, as visually arresting as two scenes that appear in the French import “Irreversible.”  In fact, I am sure that both of them will not be topped this year by anything that I am going to see.  Easy.  How shocking are we talking about here?  During one of the scenes, six people out of the 30 or so present left the theater immediately.  Two more left during the second one.  How shocking are we talking about here?  (NOTE:  SPOILER TO FOLLOW.)  There is an assault scene here so graphic that I can still, two days later, see it all replaying in my mind, and I still can’t believe that it was shot in one take.

This film, a production written and directed by Gaspar Noe, is such a ride, such a rocket, that it forces you to have a reaction to it.  Presented in reverse (not unlike “Memento” without the twists), the film starts off with two men named Pierre (Albert Dupontel) and Marcus (Vincent Cassel) that are being arrested and sent to the hospital, respectively.  We spend the movie figuring out why they are heading in those separate directions, and the dizzying array of events that follow--or, in time order, precede--those initial events is some of the most stunning footage I have ever witnessed.  The tension is further pushed by Noe’s decision to use handheld cameras throughout the voyage, so you will have a good case of seasickness before all is said and done.  For better AND for worse, Monica Bellucci shows up halfway through the film as Alex, a woman that has connections to both men.  (To see what I mean by better and worse, you need to only see her first scene.  Whoa.)

The cool part about “Irreversible” is that it is essentially ten master shots of about ten minutes apiece, so you don’t get too caught up in a bunch of MTV-style rapid cutting from scene to scene; this lets the actors really fill up the time as they go about their business and as you learn more and more about what got them into their precarious position to start the film.  The bad, very bad part about this is that a handful of scenes don’t let up on the jugular since they are played out in their entirety.  Some helpful advice for these scenes, and for that matter, seeing this film:  a) Don’t see this film if you are even slightly squeamish.  b) Don’t you DARE take a date to see this film.  c) Don’t even think about seeing this one with family.  d) If you have been unfortunate enough to experience any kind of sexual assault--male or female--firsthand, or secondhand, or even thirdhand (seriously), don’t go see this film.  If you have heard anything about this film, it is likely that you have heard about the horrific sequence in the middle of the film, and I am here to confirm for you that the scene in question really is that rough.

“Irreversible” is truly an astonishing piece of filmmaking; I can’t give it my highest recommendation because I can’t tell you in good faith to run out and see this movie right away; it might be best for video because that way, you can turn it off and take it back to the video store if the material on the disc disturbs you...and, for many people, it will.  But, “Irreversible” is the kind of entertainment that makes you think, leaves an impression and provokes further conversation.  If you’ve got a high tolerance check it out while it is in theaters.

Rating:  $9.50 Show


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Bellview Rating System:

"Opening Weekend":  This is the highest rating a movie can receive.  Reserved for movies that exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development, setting...or Salma Hayek.  Not necessarily in that order. 

"$X.XX Show":  This price changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently, it is the $9.50 Show.  While not technically perfect, this is a movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.  "Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca", but you'll have a great time watching.  The $9.50 Show won't win any Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see "Office Space"). 

"Matinee":  An average movie that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.  Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about yourself.  A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave the theater saying "That wasn't too, did you see that Lakers game last night?" 

"Rental":  This rating indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one."  Mostly forgettable, you couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the video store was out of copies of "Ronin."  If you can, see this movie for free.  This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a half stars." 

"Hard Vice":  This rating is the bottom of the barrel.  A movie that only six other human beings have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen.  A Shannon Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a movie.  Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or "Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!  (Warning:  strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard Vice"-rated movies.)

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The "fine print":
All material by Justin Elliot Bell for SMR/Bellview/ except where noted
© 1999-2009 Justin Elliot Bell This site was last updated 01/08/09