Irreversible begins with the closing credits running backwards before the film begins (or ends) with Marcus (Vincent Cassell) and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) being escorted out of a gay S&M club by the cops, Marcus with his arm broken and Pierre in handcuffs. The "story" proceeds to unwind in a series of single-take scenes that unfold Memento-style, with each scene giving more context to what we have seen previously. Each scenario depicts actions, dialogue, incident, behavior, and circumstances that the lead characters might have wished didn''t happen, ranging from extreme violence through awkward social situations to mild embarrassment. The central character (and possible dreamer of this whole what-if story) emerges as Alex (Monica Bellucci), who suffers the worst in a very hard-to-watch rape sequence in an underpass. Semi-improvised, the scenes all have attack and power as themes, with later/earlier conversational sequences that suggest life isn''t all sexual assaults in the dark, showing equal cinematic imagination with the horrors. Arguably, this is not a film most would subject themselves to twice, but it is something that stays in the mind for days after viewing, sparking far more ideas and emotions than most wallow-in-nastiness pictures. --Kim Newman
IRREVERSIBLE (DVD MOVIE)
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