This week’s movie, Irreversible (2002), is about as far removed from last week’s movie as possible.
It’s downright disturbing … as in genuinely difficult to watch without turning away. Director Gaspar Noe’s camera doesn’t blink – even when one wishes it would.
The toughest scene was a rape scene, in which Alex (played by the impossibly beautiful Monica Bellucci) is attacked in a tunnel in what was essentially being in precisely the wrong place at precisely the wrong time. The scene goes on for what seems like an eternity, the camera ever-present to capture every little nuance of anguish.
There were several times when I wanted to turn my Blu-ray player off during this scene; however, something occurred to me: A depiction of rape should be nearly impossible to watch, shouldn’t it? Such brutality, such degradation, such … suffering … should choke us a little bit on the way down.
This scene brought to mind what seemed like and endless series of movies on cable television back in the 90s that were hell-bent on portraying a rape/assault/attack on a woman as somehow being erotic. When one thinks about it, that’s actually a far more disturbing concept that what was portrayed in this movie. (And I did turn those films off…)
At least this film’s portrayal refuses to allow us any opportunity to be even remotely comfortable with what we’re watching. And, as a result, I found myself not only shocked and horrified by what I was seeing – I felt such utter sympathy for Alex. (This was achieved not only by the director’s unwavering camera, but by Bellucci’s astonishing performance.)
In it’s almost unimaginable brutality, this film shows more genuine compassion for rape victims than any other film I’ve seen – and I applaud that. In fact, I actually have a hard time recalling when a film caused me to develop such a bond of sympathy for a character – and I applaud that, too.
And as if this movie’s all-out assault on the senses weren’t enough, I found that its sole moment of beauty was infused with an overwhelming sadness. (Man, these folks just can’t catch a break here…)
All in all, the experience was as mesmerizing as it was stupefying. I definitely recommend seeing it – but with the caveat that you do so with your eyes wide open, because before this film is over they’re likely to be shut at least once.
I noticed that the publishing date for this week’s blog is July 4th (even though I’m writing it on the 3rd). So – even though this has noting whatever to do with the film I talked about – I wish you all a very happy Independence Day!