Gaspar Noe is probably ecstatic about his film Irreversible. People will be disgusted at the visceral violence and sexuality that Noe (Sodomites, I Stand Alone) decided to include, passing it off as art. It is all pretentious junk, akin to the stuff that fellow countrywoman Catherine Breillat releases. The true objective of Noe (and Breillat) is to see how far they can push the envelope, usually in terms of what types of sex they can show in film. Why else would Noe digitally add (notice this reviewer did not use the word "insert") a penis into a scene? It adds nothing except shock value. The centerpiece of Irreversible is a graphic rape scene that lasts nearly ten minutes.

Noe claims that his movie is about the fact that time destroys everything. It's hard to see how this fits in. Irreversible is more about how extreme events can cause people to do extreme things. The movie begins with a violent murder, and then, Memento-style, unfolds backwards. Noe wants to show the audience what exactly happened to cause a man to do something so brutal. There is little plot, and Noe improvised much of the dialogue with stars Monica Bellucci (Tears of the Sun, Brotherhood of the Wolf) and Vincent Cassel (Read My Lips, Birthday Girl), and the result is flimsy.

The basic story is that Alex (Bellucci) and her boyfriend Marcus (Cassel) go to a party with their mutual friend Pierre (Albert Dupontel, Shopping, L'Origine du Monde). Bellucci is violently attacked and Marcus seeks revenge. The first half of the movie is a headache-inducing trip through a gay club called The Rectum, with the camera incessantly spinning and loud throbbing music. Noe hits people over the head with his transitions back in time, as if hitting dumber members of the audience over the head with what is happening. The second half of Irreversible is a dull accounting of what led up to rape. If one takes events in chronological order, the sequence of events and the way they play out is almost laughable.

Bellucci is nothing more than eye candy. She is on screen primarily for Noe to abuse her character. As for Cassel, he is insane in one half and dull in the other. Noe is more concerned with the parade of sex and nudity. Irreversible is not completely worthless, since there is some stuff in there about the fate and the inevitability of the future. However, this is small consolation for sitting through the rest of the film.

Mongoose Rates It: Pretty Bad.
1 hour, 34 minutes, French with English subtitles, Not Rated by contains explicit sexuality, nudity, and language.

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