Blu-ray: Irreversible (2002)
Irréversible was written and directed by Gaspar Noé and stars then married in real life couple, Monica Bellucci (Alex) and Vincent Cassel (Marcus) as partners, along with Albert Dupontel as Alex’s former boyfriend and the couples friend Pierre.
In its original release Noe used ‘reverse chronology’ and tells the story from end to beginning – that is it tells the story backwards through time, so the end, is the beginning.
Other than that, it is an extremely violent rape/revenge movie. Irréversible has been associated with a series of films defined as the cinéma du corps (the cinema of the body), which normally have confrontational subject material and a pervasive sense of social nihilism and despair. That’s one way to describe this very emotionally complex, yet simply told story.
The film itself is one of those infamous movies that are endlessly talked about by people who haven’t actually seen it. To say it’s uncomfortable viewing is an understatement. It’s excruciating in parts. There is a ten minute rape scene where the camera is static, never moves and we are witnesses to the bitter end of this incredibly realistic rape. I’ve seen so many pieces written about this scene, from it being a work of genius to titillation and homophobic. My own opinion of it is, that you can choose not to show this horrific act, and it IS very horrible, long, and realistic, and by not showing it, make it ‘okay’, less than it is. There is no doubt at watching this act how despicable it is. Also let’s not forget, that no matter how realistic it is, it’s not real. The rape is not the core of the film, it IS the catalyst of events, but for me the heart of this film is the relationship between the three main characters and the love of the couple.
Indicator’s new release of Noe’s film has one very interesting addition (apart from the usual superb array of extras) and that is the film cut in sequence, so we see events in chronological order, and this was the version we watched for this review.
Surprisingly I found the original ‘Backwards’ cut of the film more powerful, mainly because beginning in despair and ending in sunlight knowing what all the three friends have lost is more poignant, heart breaking and brutal.
Again Indicator’s extras are wonderful. The two versions of the film, and Noe’s commentary is a huge bonus, but the also the making of documentary is truly enlightening and hearing the actors talk about film it – especially those two infamous scenes, gives the viewer a real insight into the film.
The BFI audio interview is also great, Cassell being charming and very cheeky (I wish they had put maybe photos of the film up instead of a black screen though!). Alexandra Heller-Nicholas short video essay is also a great addition to the whole package.
A really fantastic and well thought out edition from Indicator. An essential watch for any film fan.
INDICATOR LIMITED EDITION 2 x BLU-RAY SPECIAL FEATURES
- 2K restorations supervised by writer-director Gaspar Noé
- Two versions of the film: the 2002 Original Theatrical Cut (98 mins); and the 2020 Straight Cut, which re-assembles the events in chronological order (90 mins)
- Original 5.1 surround sound and 2.0 stereo audio tracks
- Audio commentary by Gaspar Noé on the Original Theatrical Cut (2003)
- The Irreversible Odyssey (2019, 44 mins): retrospective documentary featuring interviews with Noé, actors Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Albert Dupontel, cinematographer Benoît Debie, and others
- NFT50 Q&A (2002, 49 mins): archival audio recording of a post-screening Q&A session with Noé, Bellucci and Cassel, recorded at London’s National Film Theatre
- The BFI Masterclass with Gaspar Noé (2009, 90 mins): archival audio recording of the filmmaker in conversation with programmer and critic David Cox, recorded at BFI Southbank during the London Film Festival
- SFX (2003, 8 mins): visual effects supervisor Rodolphe Chabrier discusses his team’s work on the film
- Time Destroys All Things (2021, 15 mins): video essay examining the two versions of Irreversible by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas, author of Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study
- Deleted scene (1 min)
- ‘Stress’ (2002, 5 mins) and ‘Outrage’ (2002, 5 mins): Thomas Bangalter music videos, directed by Noé
- Intoxication (2002, 5 mins): documentary short by Noé featuring filmmaker Stéphane Drouot
- Original theatrical trailers
- 2019 Venice Film Festival trailer
- Teaser trailers
- Image gallery: publicity and promotional material
- New and improved English subtitles
- Limited edition exclusive 80-page book with a new essay by Anna Bogutskaya, an archival American Cinematographer article on the technical aspects of the film, a BBFC case study, an overview of contemporary critical responses, an archival ‘for and against’ article by Nick James and Mark Kermode, a look at the creation of the Straight Cut, new writing on Intoxication, and film credits
- Limited edition exclusive double-sided poster
- UK premiere on Blu-ray
- Limited edition of 10,000 copies
Review by Tina from discs kindly supplied by Powerhouse Films.