Plot: Alex goes out for a night of partying with current boyfriend Marcus and ex-boyfriend Pierre. She's raped and beaten nearly to death, and the two boys go hunting for the criminal in order to get revenge.
It's not a movie that I can give away the ending to because, like Memento, it's told in reverse chronological order. Instead, I don't want to give away the beginning which, with the help of Beethoven's 7th (2nd movement, the one I've told people I'd like to some day die to), gave me a genuine emotional jolt. The entire movie's an experience unlike any other. I don't necessarily mean that in a positive way, and I'm not likely to recommend this movie to anybody. Argentine director Gaspar Noe (this is my first Noe movie) displays a gift for making a movie into a very raw, visceral experience, and Irreversible is a movie you watch more with your guts than anything else. Discombobulating camera angles in which the handheld camera spirals and bends and undulates, barely discernible off-kilter incidental music, sickening lighting effects, and long takes where either nothing at all happens or too much to handle is happening make this a queasy viewing experience. Noe's techniques, which I'll tell you again are the types of things that a lot of viewers will despise, put the experiences of these characters, especially a scene of brutal violence and the infamous and seemingly endless rape scene, right in your face. It's strange because the effects and storytelling techniques make you aware that you're watching a movie and that these actors will be just fine, but it just doesn't sit right and you're disturbed. I had difficulty sleeping after watching Irreversible and didn't feel like watching a movie for several days afterward. And the reverse chronological order thing? Unlike Memento, a movie that felt cold and gimmicky to me the sole time I saw it, the trick adds an emotional intensity and fits right in thematically. I imagine that Noe reached his cinematic goals with Irreversible. I can't imagine that I'll ever feel like putting myself through it ever again. I do, however, really want to check out more of his oeuvre.
I also want to see Memento again.