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"Le temps détruit tout." ("Time destroys everything.")
Irreversible is a French 2002 film by Gaspar Noé. Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex (Monica Bellucci) is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass. Her boyfriend and ex-lover (Vincent Cassel) take matters into their own hands by hiring two criminals to help them find the rapist so that they can exact revenge.Similar to Memento, the film is in reverse chronological order, enabling it to show a simultaneously beautiful and terrible examination of the destructive nature of cause and effect, and how time destroys everything. To this day, the controversial rape scene is what the film tends be remembered for, rather than the backwards narrative and exploration of vengeance. There were reports that members of the audience walked out of the movie after becoming ill.
Brown Note: Infrasonics were deployed during the more disturbing scenes in the film. Reportedly, this was specifically for the sake of causing nausea in filmgoers.
Berserk Button: Marcus has one which is in-keeping with his volatile nature... But you really, really, really don't want to ever piss Pierre off.
Bystander Syndrome: While Alex is pinned to the floor and is quite obviously struggling to scream and get away, someone in the background walks into the underpass, looks at what's happening, and walks away.
Call Back: The closing credits which open the film look identical to those from Noé's previous film, I Stand Alone, but they run backwards.
Closing Credits: Following the backwards conceit to the fullest extent, the film opens with the closing credits which run backwards.
Cluster F-Bomb: Marcus swears when he gets in a fight with the Asian cab driver.
"You're throwing me out of the cab, you fucking Chink nancy? Gonna call your slant-eyed asshole friends? Bowl of rice shit, hurry or I'll fuck your ass! Go ream your shitass genetic code. Fucking Peking duck!"
Crapsack World: While the first half of the film could certainly be said to take place in a hellish underworld, the film also gives us a look at a more innocent and idyllic vision of the world before it is shattered.
Interface Screw: The closing credits that open the film tilt slightly to the right until the entire thing is at a 45-degree angle. They then spin the other way until sideways and fly out of the screen, introducing the large amounts of Dizzy Cam to follow.
Jerkass: Marcus. At times it's a hard to see why Alex is dating him at all. A point lampshaded by Pierre at one point in the film.
Late-Arrival Spoiler: Irreversible contains this for his earlier film I Stand Alone in the very first scene: The Butcher slept with his autistic daughter and went to jail for it.
Lucky Bastard: Le Tenia is not the sort of rapist who stalks his victim and plans the attack, he quite literally happened to spot Alex and attacked her. The attack happened simply because Alex happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the wrong time only by a very narrow margin: if she had entered that underpass thirty seconds earlier she would have gotten through it and been out on the other side before Le Tenia entered, and if she had gone in there thirty seconds later she would have seen Le Tenia beating the prostitute and known not to approach. He then proceeded to rape and beat her for nine minutes in a place where anyone could have discovered him and intervened, his grip slipped long enough for Alex to scream a couple of times, and someone actually did see what he was doing but walked away without doing anything. Despite all these opportunities to fail, he succeeds purely by luck. He is also a Karma Houdini thanks to a case of mistaken identity that he likewise didn't plan, and has apparently escaped the police despite not taking any precautions against leaving DNA evidence inside Alex.
Male Frontal Nudity: The rapist is quickly flashing his best part right after raping Alex. It's all CGI though.
Violence Is Disturbing: Gaspar Noe is a fan of this trope in general, and the scenes of violence in this film are very disturbing.
Violence Is the Only Option: Subverted in that Pierre, the one who tries to talk Marcus out of violent retribution commits the shockingly brutal act that opens the film. This is only made all the more pointless and hollow when you go back through the story.
Visual Innuendo: The fire extinguisher was not chosen at random as a weapon, being a phallic symbol. Hence the fact that Pierre destroys the suspected rapist's head with extinguisher blows to avenge the rape of Alex.