Irreversible is one of the most controversial yet beautiful films out there by a brilliant director who wanted to make the movie Kubrick wanted to make (Eyes Wide Shut). The result polarized audiences when it premiered and still does to this day. The new 2K transfer on Blu-ray looks great and the DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix is intense. The new bonus features are a must-see. Highly Recommended!
Any of the films of French filmmaker Gaspar Noe will be permanently inked into the minds of those who watch his brilliant, yet sexually violent movies. Perhaps his most iconic movie that put him on the world's radar was Irreversible which is a frightening piece of cinema on all levels. It's not scary in the way where Freddy Krueger pops out at midnight with finger knives, but rather in a sadistic highly-stylized way that captures the low point of humanity. Its theatrical release and intended way to view the movie is shown backward with an appearance of no edits or cuts. Basically, what would be the end of the film now starts out this hypnotic and brutal odyssey that had people fainting, puking, and walking out of its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival back in 2002.
Noe's visual style and the way he swings and twirls the camera in almost constant motion are set to unease the viewer to a point of high stress with tons of confusion, much like the characters in this film who are put into a world they don't belong in. The sheer violence and brutality depicted and acted out on screen in Irreversible is unparalleled where Noe's camera never lets the audience escape from the hostile environment that overtakes every inch of scenery, including the real-time twelve-minute rape sequence. But for as much terror as there is in this film, there is as much romance and endearing drama between a couple that has a night out with a friend, painting the town red.
Irreversible is not for the squeamish and it takes a toll on the viewer with its visuals and the narrative being presented. Noe reveals reactions and consequences before the actual events take place that isolate any sense of emotion that should be festering deep within. The film follows a couple named Alex (Monica Bellucci) and Marcus (Vincent Cassel) who are having a wonderful romantic day together and end up joining Alex's friend Pierre (Albert Dupontel) on a night out they will never forget. As the afternoon and evening go on, Marcus wants to enhance the party more by doing more drugs and alcohol, whereas Alex wants to have a quieter night with friends. Alex leaves Marcus and Pierre to walk home and crosses paths with a violent and brutal pimp who has just viciously beaten a prostitute and has now focused on Alex. After this horrifying experience, Marcus and Pierre find Alex which leads them on a revenge chase into the seedy underbelly of a gay S&M club to pay the ultimate price.
That being said, Noe executes that story in reverse where all sorts of confusion and disillusionment abound by what is unfolding on screen. Most of the violence happens early on in the film, but thank god because ending on the starting note like it's supposed to would probably be too much for most people. Instead, Noe allows this visceral journey of pure depravity and inexcusable behavior to settle inside a romantic, lovely dream between two people, revealing a couple's unwavering love, before everything decays. It's still one of the most controversial and beautiful films two decades later with dynamite performances from Bellucci and Cassel.
Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Irreversible pummels its way to Blu-ray via OCN Distribution and Altered Innocence with two Blu-ray discs. Both discs are housed inside a hard, clear plastic case. There is no digital code or booklet. One disc is of the theatrical cut with bonus features and the second disc employs the Straight Cut without extras. The theatrical cut is almost 94 minutes long and the Straight Cut is 86 minutes long. Nothing of real note was excised from the new version.
Irreversible comes with a 2K restoration transfer in 1080p. Noe himself restored the film at 25fps to preserve some of the visual and audio elements that made the movie so memorable. The color palette here is covered in a lot of darker tones to start out the film. A ton of beige, dark red neon signs, walls, and pitch-black and red hallways find their way onto the screen. These darker sequences go in line with the brutal tone of the movie. There aren't any colors that pop vibrantly until the latter part of the film where color prisms show up and the night turns to day and beautiful, delicious green grass and blue skies fill up the image. Other than that, it's a warm, fiery, dark picture that takes viewers down its own personal hell.
The detail isn't sharp and vivid, but there are some better elements in well-lit close-ups that show off facial features and textures in the clothing. These were all stylistic choices to go in line with the film's themes and tone, along with hiding some of those cool edits and camera tricks. There are some layers of grain throughout that fluctuate and black levels aren't always inky and rich, but that's part of the style Noe used here. There were no other issues to speak of here, making this release one of the best-looking transfers of the film to date.
This release comes with a DTS-HD 5.1 audio mix that sounds amazing and is made to cause dizziness and confusion. The opening fifteen minutes of the film has heavy techno sounds that repeat with tons of bass and synth notes that hit hard. This is to cause a state of paranoia and it works perfectly. The sound effects sound realistic with ambient sounds of the underground club coming through nicely in the surround speakers. As the film plays out, the deafening score lightens up and symphony strings and horns can be heard better with a lighter tone. Dialogue is always clean and clear, and can be easily followed with English subtitles. There are no audio problems to speak of.
A mix of old and new extras is included here. The big one is an amazing new interview series with almost everyone who worked on the film who come back and discuss its importance and production.
There isn't another movie quite like Irreversible. It's a painful, yet beautiful experience of love and how revenge can take a toll on a person where any amount of time can kill a good moment. With impeccable performances and a phenomenal director - this film packs a punch twenty years later. The video and audio transfers look great and the bonus features are stellar. The added Straight Cut is an interesting addition as well. Highly Recommended!