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    French hiss

    Likely the worst movie of the year, "Irreversible" exhibits fascist, gay-bashing tendencies, goes backwards for no reason, dizzies you with aimless camera work, and covers its banality with a veneer of pseudointellectual bullshit.


    "Irreversible" is going to be hard to beat as the worst movie of the year, even with 10 months remaining in the competition. It sucks in so many ways, it's hard to know which one to start with.

    Written and directed by: Gaspar Noé.
    Cast: Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel, Philippe Nahon, Jo Prestia, Stˇphane Drouot, Jean-Louis Costes, Mourad Khima.
    In French with English subtitles.

    Related links: Official site
    Okay, first of all, the movie goes backwards, in feeble imitation of "Memento," "Betrayal," and the outstanding Korean film "Peppermint Candy." Now, the thing about stories that go backwards is there's got to be a mystery at the beginning of the story, which becomes the end of the movie. Instead of cause and effect, it's effect and cause. Not how will it end, but how did it start?

    "Irreversible" starts with a scene of extreme violence, as Marcus (Vincent Cassel) rampages through a barely-lit gay bondage bar called Le Rectum looking for someone called Le Tenia. The scene culminates in the hideous murder of some random gay guy, who is not Le Tenia, by Marcus's friend Pierre.

    So what chain of events propelled Marcus and his friend to this destiny? Well, normally it would be bad form to reveal the ultimate answer, as I'm about to do, but it's only a couple scenes later that we find out. His curvaceous girlfriend Alex (played by his real-life wife, Monica Bellucci) is raped and beaten senseless by an immigrant stranger in another horrendously violent scene, and he's mad with rage. (The extremely harsh rape scene might be defended on the grounds that it dramatizes what a horrifying crime rape is, but, given the fact that the whole thing is foretold by the backwards format, it's gratuitous before it even starts.)

    Once you know the cause of the jarring scene at the end, the suspense is over. The whole movie is over. What else are you going to show on your backwards journey — how happy-happy-happy these characters were before the randomly occurring rape? Well, yes, that's what we see for the rest of the film. They party, they snort coke, they lie around in bed, and they take the subway. They have a tedious, thoroughly de-eroticized but quintessentially French philosophical debate on the subway about orgasms. The end is foreshadowed repeatedly, which is pointless because it's already been shown. I guess you'd call that postshadowing.

    So if the story had been told forwards rather than backwards, it would at least have fit together structurally. Showing it backwards was nothing but artistically pretentious stupidity.

    Filmmaker Gaspard Noˇ — abetted by the actors, who improvised much of their dialogue — tries to justify his artistic pretensions through pseudointellectual pretensions. "I was reading a book," Alex mentions, a propos of nothing, in a way that's supposed to show that she's not some dumb bimbo but some brainy bimbo. What did she learn from the book? That "the future is already written." We're also informed by another character that "time destroys all." Oooh, that's so deep.

      Much of the movie is shot using what can only be described as the drunken monkey technique. But perhaps I'm being unfair to monkeys.
    Even more wrong is the movie's misanthropy. I may be interpreting it differently from what was intended, but the rampage through the gay bar is so full of ignorant gay pervert stereotypes that the scene would simply never have gotten made in this country. Even as they're being pummeled by the righteously enraged Cassel, they're whining, "Wait, fist me!" ("Fiste-moi!"), and they just stare in fetishistic fascination as one of their number's skull is crushed with repeated blows of a fire extinguisher. American filmmakers would think eight or ten times about whether they were justifying gay-bashing with a scene like this, but not the makers of "Irreversible." And I think that's just one example of the film's arrogance toward women, immigrants and people in general.

    The inhumanity shows up in the flimsiness of the characters as well. We have no insight into what, if anything, these people are made of. Their lives are empty, their talk is inane, they like to party. By the end — excuse me, the beginning — of the movie, we have nothing at stake in their fate. The friend Pierre, in particular, is a cipher — a nebbishy professor about whom the only thing we know is that he's sexually inadequate and insecure — and the fact that this pathetic and inconsequential character steps in and commits the heinous murder drains the story of meaning even further. We only sense that Noˇ has his own reasons for gleefully sending these individuals — his everymen, or maybe his ubermen — out to slaughter their inferiors. It feels like a case of crypto-fascist wish fulfillment.

    And finally there's cinematic pretension — much of the movie is shot using what can only be described as the drunken monkey technique. To enhance the movie's sense of edginess, the camera meanders aimlessly over ceilings and sides of buildings and into total darkness, as if some simian with no idea what to point a camera at got hold of it and waved it around until someone distracted him with a banana. But perhaps I'm being unfair to monkeys. If you put an infinite number of monkeys behind an infinite number of cameras, perhaps one of them would eventually make "Citizen Kane" but none would make a film so intentionally awful as "Irreversible." That takes volition.

    This concludes our review for the straight-female and gay-male portions of the Offoffoff audience. The rest of you, however, will still have one question on your minds if you've seen the previews: So do we get to see Monica Bellucci naked or what? And the answer is, yes, quite a bit. In fact, that's probably the only reason this stinker ever got released, and it's the only reason you should even remotely consider seeing it. Now, one thing I could suggest is to head down to your local 38-plex and buy tickets for some other movie that ends half an hour before "Irreversible," enjoy your movie, and then sneak in to catch the end of this one — but of course that would be wrong. Perhaps you might wait for it to come onto cable, set your VCR to tape the last half-hour while you sleep, and then enjoy the view from the next day until the end of time. Just don't give the filmmakers a dime of your money, not for this garbage.

    MARCH 6, 2003

    Reader comments on Irreversible:

  • Sorry for you   from Mademoiselle, Mar 12, 2003
  • Re: Sorry for you   from GD Williamson, Mar 18, 2003
  • Re: Sorry for you   from Bryan, Sep 29, 2003
  • Re: Sorry for you   from Tashtigo707, Apr 14, 2003
  • Re: Sorry for you   from Perfume V, Jun 13, 2003
  • Re: Sorry for you   from Seb, Oct 6, 2003
  • Re: Sorry for you   from earlgrey, Oct 12, 2003
  • Re: Sorry for you   from Sam, Nov 5, 2003
  • fascinating   from irrelevant, Jan 10, 2004
  • Re: Sorry for you   from FreeYOW, Jan 22, 2006
  • Re: Sorry for you   from Rose, Sep 2, 2007
  • Don't listen to Joshy   from Cory, Mar 13, 2003
  • worst... film... ever!   from lunarfist, Mar 14, 2003
  • Irreversible did it's job   from WebsCo, Aug 7, 2003
  • Re: worst... film... ever!   from EJ, Aug 9, 2003
  • Re: worst... film... ever!   from Matchfit, Sep 1, 2003
  • Re: worst... film... ever!   from dcc, Aug 16, 2007
  • Death Wish   from Geezer, Feb 14, 2004
  • Re: worst... film... ever!   from Jo, Feb 15, 2004
  • Re: worst... film... ever!   from DC, Aug 16, 2007
  • Re: worst... film... ever!   from mastroiani, Jun 30, 2009
  • [no subject]   from MJ, Mar 30, 2003
  • are you kidding?   from tb7, Apr 1, 2003
  • Repulsive without merit   from t c, Apr 16, 2003
  • Re: Repulsive without merit   from CB, May 2, 2003
  • Re: Repulsive without merit   from tie, Mar 15, 2004
  • Re: Repulsive without merit   from Mimo Zus, Aug 17, 2004
  • Re: Repulsive without merit   from che, Apr 20, 2007
  • this says it best   from MB, Apr 18, 2003
  • Re: this says it best   from Tashtigo707, Apr 22, 2003
  • homophobia?   from fireal, Apr 23, 2003
  • Re: homophobia?   from Perfume V, May 1, 2003
  • Re: homophobia?   from fireal, May 11, 2003
  • Re: homophobia?   from Perfume V, Jun 13, 2003
  • Re: homophobia?   from movie viewer, Dec 3, 2003
  • Re: homophobia?   from Joshua, Dec 3, 2003
  • Re: homophobia?   from Bjoern H, Dec 7, 2003
  • Re: homophobia?   from Ronin, Jan 2, 2004
  • Re: homophobia?   from Jaime, May 7, 2007
  • Re: homophobia?   from Rose, Sep 2, 2007
  • Re: homophobia?   from Allan, Sep 13, 2008
  • Re: this says it best   from Tony Host, Jan 18, 2007
  • Doing what it is suppose to!   from Bruce, May 9, 2003
  • versirreblei   from mark brant, May 14, 2003
  • Joshy...   from monica belluci, May 24, 2003
  • late at night   from Clara, May 31, 2003
  • Movie end   from David, Aug 24, 2003
  • Joshy's point   from tommy, Jun 1, 2003
  • [no subject]   from , Sep 25, 2003
  • ART   from L, Oct 6, 2003
  • Re: ART   from Derek, Dec 6, 2006
  • I liked it... then hated it.   from Bryan, Sep 29, 2003
  • Re: I liked it... then hated it.   from Bjoern H, Dec 7, 2003
  • JOSHUA TANZER, You are a jackass!   from sudamericanrocker, Oct 12, 2003
  • Re: JOSHUA TANZER, You are a jackass!   from Tostitos, Oct 18, 2003
  • Fucking americans!   from Mr. Europa, Nov 12, 2003
  • Re: Fucking americans!   from karen, Dec 22, 2004
  • Re: Fucking americans!   from ying, May 15, 2005
  • Is this a review??   from Mauro, Dec 5, 2003
  • the movie was a complete success.   from Nadira Ilana, Jan 2, 2004
  • Re: Is this a review??   from Hathor, Feb 6, 2004
  • got a little carried away   from JamesEarlCash, Dec 8, 2003
  • Post Scriptum   from JamesEarlCash, Dec 8, 2003
  • saw last night - amazing viceral   from michael, Jan 6, 2004
  • Re: saw last night - amazing viceral   from Drew, Jan 25, 2005
  • if you know films, this for BEST PICTURE   from dobermann, Jan 13, 2004
  • Irreversible   from Tyler Durden, Feb 18, 2004
  • Asking for a song   from Pedro Trevino, Apr 5, 2004
  • Criminal charges   from A.J.A., Apr 25, 2004
  • Editing   from Me, Aug 1, 2004
  • irreversible...   from Jeff, Nov 24, 2004
  • Re: irreversible...   from Onetime, Dec 16, 2004
  • my sentiments exactly   from RG, Jun 10, 2005
  • Good review   from Lampen, Jun 27, 2005
  • Gasper Noe ROCKS   from Discoelmer, Jul 5, 2005
  • Is this guy a qualified critic?   from theevildead23, Sep 3, 2005
  • "Irreversible" review   from Steven J Athanas, Oct 30, 2005
  • Eyes open   from che, Nov 13, 2005
  • Re: Eyes open   from ski, Nov 25, 2005
  • feedbeack   from Per, Jan 10, 2006
  • Relax gentlemen...   from JT Mengel, Jun 26, 2006
  • Joshua Tanzer is a stupid cunt   from DNK, Jul 4, 2006
  • Re: Joshua Tanzer is a stupid cunt   from Che, Apr 20, 2007
  • lol, go and watch clockwork orange   from nameless, Oct 1, 2006
  • Memento?!?!?   from Pokey, Oct 30, 2006
  • [no subject]   from SteamMachine, Nov 16, 2006
  • Tanzer Sucks   from Ricardo Moscoso, May 25, 2007
  • Hypocrite!!   from Dee, Jun 19, 2007
  • Not at all a pointless movie   from kada, Jul 12, 2007
  • Joshua hit the nail on the head   from Mike Lep, Aug 7, 2007
  • Re: Joshua hit the nail on the head   from Novi Filipovich, Jul 5, 2014
  • Movie is good and reviewer is bad...   from Cheery, Sep 16, 2007
  • Disgusted   from Sick, Jan 30, 2009
  • You're an idiot   from Robert, May 6, 2009
  • inexcusable   from Fin Macdonald, Oct 16, 2013
  • Amazing movie, Top notch   from Novi Filipovich, Jul 5, 2014

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