Friday, December 7, 2007

Irreversible (2002, Gaspar Noe)

I have long been wanting to watch this now infamous film for a couple of years now. When people talk about this film they are quick to mention the brutal violence and rape scene that the film contains. This is not the reason why I became interested in the film. Instead, when I heard that the cinematography was out of this world and that the Mementoesque way of telling the story backwards worked perfectly for it - I became interested.

Due to the film having an NC-17 rating I wasn't able to track down the film for a long time. I could go into a little rant about how the rating system works but I wont. I'm glad that at least a film like this exists and isn't banned from being distributed here. So, I was just happy enough to find this one and rent it.

Anyways, this is one intense and excellent film. That's the easiest way to put it. The film only lasts a little bit over an hour and a half but it's one dark journey to the end. The film has a basic revenge driven plot about a loving boyfriend tracking down and killing the man who raped his girlfriend. It sounds simple when its written down but the execution of it all is far from simple.

Immediately from the first scene you get a sense of what you are about to get into. The atmosphere and style of the film even begins from the opening backward credits. This is one of the 2 "gimmicks" that the film uses through out it's running length. This first gimmick is telling the story completely backwards. The second gimmick is it's outrageous cinematography.

The cinematography in this film is really something else. By using invisible digital edits and morphing effects each scene is one long 20 minute or longer take. The thing is that the camera never seems to stand still. It's often just falling all over the place and just spinning around while never focusing on anything except the blurs that it's creating by moving so much. It's annoying at first but if you manage to sit through the first scene that ends in one of the most violent scenes ever filmed, then you will easily buy into it and "get it". By this I mean that you will be able to see and understand what Gaspar Noe was aiming for with this effect. Which is, to give the film a unique and uneasy feeling of intensity. This is proven even further when as the film goes by and becomes less dark the camera seems to also calm down. It's as if the camera expresses the emotions that the characters it is following are feeling. So, when the characters erupt in emotions the camera erupts in a flurry of motions. This also happens when the characters are having a normal conversation and the camera just sits there without any movement. is just great and adds that extra kick that makes the film.

The other thing worth pointing out other than the superb direction and cinematography are the performances. The performances are so natural later on in the film and feel so realistic that the violent scenes that you see towards the beginning of the film turn into something completely else as the film progresses and you get to know the three main characters more. A couple of posts ago I wrote about Eastern Promises and how Vincent Cassel has turned into one of my favorite actors right now. This film further proves how truly great and underrated this guy is. The man brings so much intensity and heart to the film without ever being over the top or forced. He is always the best part of every film that I have seen him in so far (just watch Ocean's 12 and see how he steals the film) and he is once again the best part of this film. If there is any reason to watch this film, watch it just to see how awesome he is.

Oh, and I almost forgot to write about the rape scene and the fire hydrant scene which everyone likes to point out after having seen the film. I will just say what everyone else has said already...very fucked up stuff for sure. Very,very fucked up.

Like I wrote before - this is one excellent and intense film.

- A

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