My year in disturbing film is my weekly column where I devote a few paragraphs to the most fucked up films ever made. Each week I plan on subjecting myself to the most horrific and mentally damaging imagery my mind can handle. I can't promise you this won't be the week I wind up in the hospital...
HERE is a reminder about my rating system for these films
Can you beleive we've made it 7 weeks into this thing? Let's see what special movie I picked for that special someone!
oh! A fine pick...
Irreversible – Time destroys all things
What is the movie about?
Irreversible comes from the mind of the French, who have proven time and time again that they do fucked up really well. It’s the story of a woman getting raped and her boyfriend and ex teaming up to find the man who did it. It’s told in reverse order like memento is. It’s a pretty cheap trick used to make revelations that would have been banal if it had been shown in chronological order. That doesn’t mean this is a bad movie. I think as far as actual talent is concerned this may be one of the most artful films on my list. The cast is stellar with Monica Belucci and Vincent Cassell. And the camera work and editing are phenomenal. But the big question is….
Was the film disturbing?
Irreversible has at least two scenes that will damage you, especially if you’ve never seen anything like it before. I’ll get to those in a minute though. The movie opens with the closing credits going in reverse, this is your hint that the film is backwards so you better be paying attention. This is the real way the film fucks with you. It forces you to pay attention and concentrate on the film. Of course this means that you should be watching contently when the worst shit happens. It’s a clever ploy really and I applaud the filmmakers for thinking of it.
Another thing the film does right from the get go is what I like to call the “fly on the wall” camera. The camera never really stops moving (except for one particularly brutal scene which I will mention later). The camera is constantly moving and changing subjects. I actually watched the bonus features on the disc because they discuss some of the special FX they had to employ to maintain that look throughout the film, it’s amazing really.
Glad to be a fly on THIS wall!
The first thing we see after the opening scene is that of two men, one is being brought out on a stretcher. The crowd is heckling them. Apparently they’re exiting a gay club, but we don’t know that yet. The other man is brought out in handcuffs and is put in a police car. Ok so we know something bad happened, we hear one of the police refer to it as a “blood crime”. At this point we discover that the man on the stretcher is named Marcus (Vincent Cassell, an amazing French actor). Then we’re treated to our first rewind.
Marcus is searching the club for a man called “the tenia” (based on dialog in the scene I’m to assume it’s a type of tapeworm?). After several minutes he discovers a man he believes to be the person he’s searching for and he picks a fight with him. This brings us to one of the first hard scenes to watch, thankfully it’s very quick. Some people never bother to wonder if the person they’re fighting is tougher than them, the man snaps Marcus’ arm. Now I don’t mean he just breaks his arm, He puts Marcus on the ground lays his arm flat and in the middle on his humorous (the bone in the upper section of your arm, for you out there that aren’t medically trained) he puts his knee down and SNAPS Marcus’ arm. It’s incredibly painful to watch. At this point we’re slightly better introduced to Pierre, but only slightly. He hits the man with a fire extinguisher knocking him to the floor and then proceeds to smash in his skull with said extinguisher. Now I know I kind of put that lightly, when I said he smashes in the guy’s face, I mean to say he caves in the guy’s skull. The man is not recognizable after this and it’s a pretty safe assumption he’s dead. To give you an idea what the guy’s face looked like, if you’ve ever seen the (very real) snuff film “three guys, one hammer” well his face looks a lot like that guy’s face ended up looking like (please please please do NOT look that up if you have a weak stomach, it seriously almost made me vomit and I’ve seen all manner of demented stuff). This is the second thing in the movie that is hard to watch.
The story gives you a break at this point. Through a series of rewinds you discover Marcus is the boyfriend of a woman named Alex who’s been raped and Pierre is Alex’s ex. The three of them had all been at a party together that night. We’re shown (in reverse order) how Marcus and Pierre discover Alex has been raped and how they find them self at a gay club called “the rectum” to find a man called “the Tenia”(that actually seems like the perfect place to find one).
Not pictured: A rectum or a tapeworm
The film then decides to show you the single most brutal thing you may ever see in your life. Remember back in my review of “I spit on your grave” (read it here) I told you about the extensive rape scenes and how they’re the longest ever films. This is all true, but to be honest compared to the one rape scene in irreversible, they’re downright tame. Let me give you the set up first though. Alex Decides to leave the party, she’s not with Marcus or Pierre. She’s trying to hail a cab, but has no luck so she decides to cross the street to give it a shot on the other side. Now in France they don’t really have the same traffic laws as here in ‘Merica. She is helpful told that the underpass may be safer, not really, but she doesn’t know that. As she’s crossing a pimp and his hooker start fighting and Alex unfortunately tries to get past them. The man turns his attention to Alex. One thing leads to another and before long she’s on the ground and he’s raping her, Did I mention that he was doing it anally? Oh yeah and remember when I mention that the camera constantly moves except one scene? Guess which scene it stops for? You’re forced to endure the full nine minutes of rape and beatings Alex is forced to endure. She’s left looking like a swollen bloody mess. It’s so off putting that you may shut the movie off or at least fast-forward during this scene. The amazingly gorgeous Monica Belucci plays Alex and to see someone so beautiful reduced to a quivering pile of blood and mess is heart breaking.
The film has several reverse realizations. There are several things that you become aware of as the film progresses because you know what the result is. The first of these should be during the rape scene when you realize you’ve seen the guy who’s doing the raping before. After the rape the film takes on a decidedly lighter feeling. After all, at this point now nothing bad has happened and we’re just following three people, as they get ready to go to a party. You start to get a good idea of how Alex and Marcus’ relationship is. Several facts are revealed about Alex that makes her rape even more terrifying. Alex mentions a dream she had where she was in a tunnel, the tunnel is all red and then it breaks whiles she’s walking through it. Basically she’s describing her rape, so it’s weird to see her foreseeing her own attack, but not directly. There’s also one more revelation that’s made that I won’t actually share with you. It’s this last one that makes the events of the evening that much more horrible. I’m sure you’ve already guessed it, but really you should watch the movie.
I also found, surprisingly, that I enjoyed the film more my second viewing. I expected to like it as much as I had, but my rating for it is actually going up from before.
4 brutal rapes out of 5
Disturbitude: 9, the really screwed up scenes are pretty far from each other, but they stay with you, the images really stay with you. A tough sit
Next up: Henry: Portrait of a serial killer – Unrepentant
P.S. It’s about 10:30 at night here and I’m probably going to have bad dreams tonight, but I do it for you