Sitting and watching the modern, enormous screens in movie theaters gives me out-of-control feeling. The screen is so huge and overwhelming because I don’t know quite what is going to happen. Will the movie scare me, shock me, plod along, create absurd spectacles, jump out of the screen at me? Will I be moved or bored? It’s a momentary abandonment to someone else’s vision. I feel none of this when watching a movie at home on the TV. The screen is relatively small and there is a button that will stop the movie if I want. It is mine and I’m not captive to someone else’s ideas.

That opinion has changed since I watched Irreversible about a month ago.

I had signed up for Blockbuster online movie rentals (they offered me a free month) and enjoyed looking for those movies you can’t find in the regular stores. Their library is smaller than Netflix but I’ll change over when I exhaust theirs first. One of my first picks was this film. I’m a fan of Monica Belluci, and I half-remembered a few controversial things about this film when it came out. I hoped for an interesting, if not deliciously kinky, movie. Anyone who has seen it knows how wrong I was.

The movie is the most violent thing ever filmed, I believe. I’m not a fan of violent movies so I’m no expert on the subject. Suffice it to say that I was in shock for a couple days afterwards. The movie has churned around in my mind ever since. It is a stunning work that I don’t want to see anytime again soon. I still think about it a lot. (And I will never take a street underpass by myself ever.)

I like the questions it raised. What is truly irreversible? Our decisions and choices or the things that happen to us? Or is it how we react that cannot be taken back? Is there destiny or do we create our own fates? How random is life anyway? (The movie itself is irreverisble. Once you watch it, it cannot be un-watched.)

Everything in the film is paired except for Alex (Belluci) and Le Tenia (the rapist). They are the only singulars in the movie, unless that makes them a pair too. Even the two child molesters chatting in the beginning are paired with the park full of children at the end. (The movie plays from end to beginning, ‘starting’ with the credits, and was actually filmed from beginning to end. Just to clear that up.) The viewer gets the strange sensation of knowing more than the movies’ main characters. You watch them make their choices and blunder into the horror their lives quickly become. Every line spoken, every action taken, becomes a profound and bittersweet moment. Should we not live every day as if it were our last? Or isn’t it easier to simply go about our lives? We get to watch the consequences of our normal obliviousness in nightmare-vivid detail.

The translated tagline of the movie tells us that “Time destroys everything.” The entire movie is the opposite answer to the platitude that time heals all wounds. The characters in this movie are forever in limbo, never healed. We have already seen happened to them and there is no hope as we climb to the starting point.

Irreversible will prey on your mind. It’s not a movie to watch as mere entertainment. Your ‘little’ screen at home will reach out and bite.

3 thoughts on “Irreversible

  1. Irreversible is a work of art but not for the faint (no pun) hearted. Its beautifully shot, the actors are great – Vincent Cassel – the best France has to offer. Though not exactly like in the cinema, you can in fact see it online here =

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