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  • Writer's pictureJames Rutherford

'Irréversible': Gaspar Noé's Highly Controversial, Reverse-Chronological French Thriller

Movie poster for Gaspar Noé's Irréversible starring Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel

"Irréversible" (2002) is an intensely provocative psychological thriller that plays out in the form of 12 separate scenes sequenced in reverse-chronological order. The film stars Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel as Alex and Marcus, a married Parisian couple balancing Alex's anticipated pregnancy with Marcus' penchant for debauchery and flirtation with other women. Dismayed by his behavior at a party one evening, Alex elects to depart on her own without hima fateful decision that results in her horrific rape by a loathsome pimp known as "The Tapeworm" (Jo Prestia). Learning soon thereafter of her assault and desperate to enact revenge, Marcus and his associate Pierre (Albert Dupontel) set out on a brutal campaign of retribution, delving deep into the darkest corners of Paris' underground in search of Alex's assailant. Written and directed by Argentine-French filmmaker Gaspar Noé ("Enter the Void", "Climax"), "Irréversible" is a ferocious tale of real-world horror, featuring several of the more brutal sequences ever depicted on film. Despite this highly controversial content, however, Noé manages to deliver an enthralling experiment in modern filmmakinga unique cinematic puzzle open to varying degrees of interpretation. Certainly not for all audiences, "Irreversible" remains an undeniable artistic accomplishment worthy of appreciation for its stunningly innovative merits.


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