Irreversible (2002) - 9/10
A film entirely in reverse. Starting with end credits with all the letters back to front, slowly twisting the perspective. This is exactly the sort of film school schtick that got me excited about cinema. It’s more than clever execution of a simple device though. It takes art and wraps it in a mysterious dramatic nightmare. Unnerving from the start, with the camera restlessly shifting. Not so much hand held as just hung on a wire and left to swing around in a tornado. Marcus (Vincent Cassel) is lead away on a stretcher from a gay S&M club as Pierre (Albert Dupontel) is cuffed by the cops. There’s no Tenet shenanigans thankfully, but what we witness is the conclusion to an event that we’re waiting to happen. “Time destroys all things” a naked man says. You certainly have to be careful how you play with it in cinema. Too self indulgent and you’ll lose the audience, but director Gaspar Noé keeps this together wonderfully. Marcus is out for revenge, chaotically looking for Le Tenia (Jo Prestia) in a red lit spawling sex dungeon. It’s the first in a sequence of violent vignettes that lead us back in time to the brutal origins of this horrendous tale. As we pick up little details along the way, the bigger picture unfurls. It’s dark, visceral nightmare fuel with Alex (Monica Belluci) in a catalytic rape scene that’s probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever watched on screen. The frenetic camera work that signifies the chaos to come, now painfully locked static on the horror. It’s the devastating first half (that’s really the second) that makes the more conventional end (that’s really the start) carry so much weight and pack such a punch. It’s not an easy watch by any means, but it is brilliant.