What i got out of Irreversible

le0pard13 encouraged me to make a post on why watching Irreversible is worth it. For this post i will simply put what i got out of the movie, and let others decide whether its worth it.

What i found interesting was its portrayal of revenge, and how it can drastically affect people. A average guy going on a mission of revenge isn’t new, but i like how the movie shows the kind of event it would take to get a average person to go on a mission of revenge, and how that person would be a damaged, unpleasant person. I feel in a lot of mainstream movies men on revenge are depicted as “cool” and calm. While Irreversible’s treatment of this trope was far less pleasant than the usual, i think it felt more realistic(In fact, the main characters friend calls his quest for vengeance “B-movie revenge crap).

I also think Gasper uses various film techniques to help communicate the message of the movie. For one, he uses a very chaotic directing technique that helps communicate the how messed up the main character is. While at times i do feel Gasper uses it excessively, i do think for most of the movie it helps communicate the message of the movie rather than distracting from it. The directing gets gradually less chaotic as we get closer to the beginning of the story, communicating the more serene start of the story. We also learn that the main characters quest to vengeance is partly motivated by his own guilt due to how he acted before the incident. By telling the story in reverse, the movie forces the viewer to think about the affects revenge can have on a person, rather than enjoying the character taking revenge(Like in Kill Bill, for example”.

The only major complaint i have with is the homophobic language used by the main character. I think the other elements of the movie communicates the point of the move fine,and i don’t think the homophobic language helped further the message of the movie. In fact, i think it adds a unnecessary barrier to watching the movie, and with the movie already as unpleasant/hard to watch due to the other elements its not needed imo.

But even with that complaint, i do think the movie has a point, and that it isn’t shocking for the sake of being shocking. I think what the movie was trying to convey was the poisonous power of guilt and revenge, and how those forces can turn a decent, otherwise rational person into something ugly and destructive. I do realize this movie is not for everybody, but for me i found it to be a interesting exploration of how revenge can drastically change somebody.

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18 Responses to What i got out of Irreversible

  1. Ronan says:

    I like your reasoned approach Julian. Demonstrating that you actually took something positive out of the film is a fresh way of reviewing a film, or at least commenting on it, especially a controversial film like this, and it makes your arguement a lot harder to, well, argue with. I suppose the best response I could give would be to say that although I appreciate your interpretation of the film, personally it didn’t enrich me in any way and only succeeded in arresting my senses. People generally acknowledge that revenge is not only self-serving but pointless and although I think it commendable that Gaspar supports this in his film, I don’t think it necessary to go to the extremes he does and thereby alienating a large portion of his potential audience. Any conversation I have ever had about Irreversible has always been about the shocking content as opposed to the negative effects of revenge on people. But then maybe I’m just talking to the wrong people πŸ™‚

    • I will admit Gasper does go to the extreme to portray the movies message about revenge, and i do realize for some it may be hard to get past that. I can’t imagine Gasper thought this movie would reach a mass audience, but there is a lot of positive reviews for it on imdb, so i think that does show there is a audience, however small for this type of movie

  2. le0pard13 says:

    I, too, appreciate your thoughts regarding this and the care you put forward on filmmaker Gasper’s intent. Of course, as opposed to Ronan, I’m speaking from the side that’s not seen the film (only heard of the extreme, shocking, and disturbing parts). Someone commenting on such matters when he’s not seen the movie is obviously problematic (at least I find it vexing). Of course, I’m basing a lot of my thoughts and hesitancy on what I’ve heard or read about films like Irreversible and SalΓ², or the 120 Days of Sodom. Each of the films may not be for a wide audience, but they seem to garner a great deal of reaction from those who’ve seen them (positive or negative). They don’t get much lukewarm reaction, that’s for sure.

    Still, I cannot state I’m not curious about them. Pasolini’s film was certainly his comment on Fascist Italy and even our modern society. As well, you make a very persuasive argument for Gasper’s point about revenge in his film — without doubt, it has firm ground beneath it. I vacillate all the time on whether I’m really missing something either important or artistically significant by staying away from such discriminating, albeit decidedly challenging, cinema. Your article (and the thoughts and reactions within it) cannot be dismissed. Certainly not by me. Still, the ugliness and extremes that are undeniably part of both of those films can’t be forgotten, yes? I mean the potential for the heart of the matter (Pasolini’s or Gasper’s) becoming lost in the mayhem is real, is it not? The scalpel is surely part of their toolkit as artists as assuredly is the hammer. I just don’t know if blunt force trauma was the way to go. Obviously for them, it was their way of making a point.

    Nevertheless, I do appreciate what you got out of the film, Julian. I have viewed other challenging film in my journey through cinema. Some I found worth it, some convinced me otherwise (and as I expressed to Ronan, I’ve yet to find a way of un-ringing that bell for those). I’m not likely to see this one, as yet, but equally I’ll not forget what you’ve taken the care to write about this film. Thank you for the mention and your thought concerning this one. I very much enjoyed reading this post.

    • I’m happy my thoughts made a impression on you. And i have realized that different people have different tastes as to what they find acceptable in film,but usually i can accept most things as long as i see a point to it, even if they are extreme. ‘Enter the Void”, another film by Gasper i didn’t like much mainly because i didn’t really see the point of it.

      Although, i will say that incestuous themes tend to freak me out bad. I once stumbled upon a movie with that in it, and i’ve been reluctant to see anything similar again. Thankfully that is pretty rare in movies πŸ˜‰

      • Ronan says:

        I would second Michael’s thoughts on the issue but would say that it is worth repeating that intention is 9/10 of the law when it comes to problematic content. Usually the intention is good, with the director wanting to make a point or raise an issue or simply express their artistic sensibility. But whatever the intention, there will always be people who won’t be bothered by it and those who will. How we decide which movies to see and why is an important aspect of our job as film critics. Personally, I choose not to see anything and everything, especially if it is dull or vicious – even if it does have artistic merit – just to have an opinion on it or to appear current or up to date.

        • rtm says:

          Hi Ronan, I totally agree with your last sentence. There are a couple of movies I wish I could un-see which is impossible of course as that’s not how your brain works, so from then on I choose to avoid films that will give me nightmares. Sounds like this one would fit the bill. Sorry Julian, no disrespect to you, it’s just my personal taste after all πŸ™‚

  3. Tyler says:

    I loved it, and there’s an old review of it floating around somewhere on my site. You pretty much said all that needed to be said, and I certainly think it’s the most powerful and poignant story of revenge I’ve ever seen. Also deserving to be mentioned is the film’s final scene, which is as brilliant as it is haunting and beautiful.

  4. Custard says:

    *shudder* This film gives me the willies!!

    I don’t really like to think about it as it becomes too vivid in my memory again!!


  5. DEZMOND says:

    I watched the film some years ago and I remember it didn’t leave any impact on me, but I must admit I do love watching the performances of Vincent Cassell in pretty much any movie.

  6. rtm says:

    I echo Ronan and Michael that I appreciate your insight into why you like this film. I know for sure I can’t handle it because my friend Vince saw it and told me so himself that he wouldn’t recommend it to me. His taste is similar to yours and Tyler in that he is drawn to really dark films, but even he said he was disturbed by some scenes in this. I’ll send him this post next week when he’s back from vacation and perhaps he’ll chime in on what he thinks.

  7. Vince says:

    Ruth guided me to this post. I think it was very astute of you to point out the revenge factor in this movie. I agree that it is the point of all of the violence we see in the beginning. It’s difficult because the movie is so expoitative whether or not it means to. I still have a hard time separating the actor from his role as the “Worm” – that’s how powerful the film is. Interestingly, the director plays one of the ‘adventurers’ in the gay bar (hard to miss). It’s a very controlled film start to finish which is hard to ignore – I admit it is very well done. With that said, his follow-up, Enter the Void had promise but was ultimately lacking for me. Good post.

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