Sunday, October 14, 2018

31 Days of Dread--Day 14

Irreversible; 2002; written and directed by Gaspar Noé

Instead of falling toward the middle of this list, Irreversible could well be its final entry. Anyone who's seen it (or failed to make it to the end) already understands why.

A tale of gruesome sexual violence and its equally violent revenge, Irreversible employs two techniques that transport it from mere exploitation into the realm of art.

The first is a reverse-chronological structure that throws viewers headfirst into the chaotic aftermath of a vicious attack, then works its way back, scene by scene, to demonstrate just how helpless the characters were against their fates.

The second is stunning camera work that both disorients and thrusts viewers into the action. Shot with a single camera in a roving and near-weightless style, it makes Irreversible feel not so much filmed as something that's happening all around you, like a dream. Or a nightmare.

And make no mistake, Irreversible is a nightmare. From the opening frames, which show the final credits, it's apparent this is a film that won't be respecting any rules. No one who might be triggered by scenes of extreme violence and punishing sexual assault should hazard watching it. Even the most hardened veterans of torture porn will find themselves flinching.

But. If you can somehow make it past the brutal rape scene at the story's center, you'll eventually find yourself at home with a happy couple, in the midst of a romantic interlude, on a beautiful summer's day, when this tragic tale all began. Despite everything it's (rightfully) notorious for, this is the true power of Irreversible: proof that heartbreak, and the despair that comes with knowing what might have been, are two of the most terrifying emotions there are.

Irreversible is available on Amazon Prime and streaming rental.

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