Film Micrœview #357: Irreversible (2002)

05.07.2017 § Leave a comment

Rating: Good.

I joked as I watched this during the French elections that Gaspar Noe was the moral compass of the French people. But this is indeed a moralistic film, and a successful one at that. For those uninterested in exposing themselves to horrific experiences, stay away. But you’d have to be immensely off to watch this as exploitation.

If Enter the Void is about rebirth, Irreversible is about anti-rebirth. This time I got to thinking about how the credits start off rolling backwards, but then start tilting sideways and are thrown out of orbit. That used to seem like just another ornamental disorienting effect. But now I’m sure that it’s critical. Connect it with two other moments where the “eye” of the film catches the attention of something spinning – once at the beginning, a police siren, and once at the end, a sprinkler. The camera gets “attached” to it to some extent, spinning with it, but then in short order cuts loose and resumes its tumbling that characterizes most of the cinematography of the film. I think what Noe is saying is that we want to live cycles, but life is a line. Time destroys all. The future seems full of possibilities, but it is not. One must assume a single outcome, and it can be traced all the way back to some galactic origin. It is the opposite of the Starchild rebirth of Space Odyssey 2001 referenced at the end. And Cassel’s character is constantly referred to as a primate, further referencing the film, and the earlier evolutionary state.

If nothing else, it is an unflinching and original vision.

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