A happy little film from France. I cannot tell you the names of anyone concerned with it, except that the director's last name is Noe. The movie begins rather mysteriously, with a pair of people on a bed. One says to the other, "Time destroys everything." IRREVERSIBLE takes this little line very much to heart. Similar to Pinter's BETRAYAL and Kaufman and Hart's MERRILY WE ROLL ALONG, but bearing more of a relationship to the noirish MEMENTO, IRREVERSIBLE moves backward in time, the action unfolding in reverse.
After the opening chat between two people who never appear again, there is a graphic trip to a gay sex club called (no, I'm not making this up) RECTUM. The camera swirls and swoops around, offering glimpses of red-lit dungeoun activity. Eventually a pair of men arrive and demand to find some one known as the Turan, and after what feels like a very long time they find him. What follows is not pretty, one of the most disturbing scenes in any movie I've ever seen. Eventually, as the film travels back, we learn that the two men are avenging a woman who has been horribly raped (which rape is also shown in one long not particularly graphic but still horrible shot). The film keeps going back and back, we learn gradually more and more about the characters, motivational knives are twisted in character's psyches, on and on until the ending/beginning which feels frankly rather abrupt, going for something of a metaphysical jump (there's a prominently displayed poster of 2001 in one character's apartment).
The acting is of a very high standard. The technical aspects of the film are beyond reproach. The camerawork is particularly fluid, the camera seldom staying in one place for long. The transitions from scene to scene, the temporal jumps backward are handled very simply so the viewer is never lost for long.
All in all, a very difficult film to watch, and an even more difficult film to like. I have a great deal of respect for it, and certainly for the actors, who are called upon to do some pretty difficult scenes. There are also some unintentional laughs provided by the subtitles, as during one scene when a character pursues a rapist to the earlier mentioned gays sex club by saying, "On to RECTUM!!"
I might be able to work myself up to see it again, to see if there is even more evident on a second viewing (particularly to see if that rather bizarre mindwarp ending is forecast at all). There's a lot to recommend it, but I can't say I blame anyone for not being able to get through it.