Sinister Screens

Irreversible (2002) ★★★★★



Time Destroys All Things.

A woman’s lover and her ex-boyfriend take justice into their own hands after she becomes the victim of a rapist. Because some acts can’t be undone. Because man is an animal. Because the desire for vengeance is a natural impulse. Because most crimes remain unpunished.

Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass, and subsequently seeks revenge upon her assailant. A simultaneously beautiful and terrible examination of the destructive nature of cause and effect, and how time destroys everything.


In Irreversible, director Gaspar Noé drags viewers backwards through a dizzying array of nihilism till the bittersweet start. Time destroys all things as showcased in this film by the dismantling of a young couple’s lives. Oftentimes, when this film is explained, it is highlighted as taking place backwards in time. This is true, but also not true. This movie features linear chunks of time that are displayed in reverse order. This is done as a powerful means to highlight that the future is predestined. This structure serves to emphasize the inevitability of the tragedy and the characters’ inability to escape their fates.

This is definitely an extreme film which features a ten-minute-long rape scene. It is unpleasant to witness this, but also done in a way to highlight the fragility of human life. Gaspar Noé brilliantly arranges these events with shots that swirl and congeal in an oftentimes dizzying fashion which lends to the unsettling feelings that we, as well as the characters, have no control.

Irreversible is an amazing film, one that, when rewatched, becomes all the more impactful. It explores the cyclical nature of violence and the irreversible consequences of our actions. It is not an easy film to get through, but one of my all-time favorite films to date.

Rating: ★★★★★ (out of 5)

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