College is very stressful; this is a well-known fact among all college students out there. But today, it has stressed me out on a whole new level, one that almost made me vomit my entire lunch.
So, a backstory: I have this English course that requires our class to create a reaction paper about one of the seven films that our professor had given us. Among these films were Hayao Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, Roman Polanski’s The Pianist, Lee Su Yeon’s The Uninvited, and Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible.
I initially thought of doing The Pianist because I’ve watched it only recently (incredible film, by the way), but I didn’t want to go through the whole film again because it was just so depressing. I only get bored with Studio Ghibli films, so Spirited Away was out of the question. The Uninvited is a psychological horror film and, I admit, I’m a wuss when it comes to horror.
So I picked Irréversible. It seemed like a good film and it certainly piqued my interest, since the guide question talked about the story being nonlinear. I love nonlinear storylines.
But, oh man, what a big fucking mistake. Huge. Enormous.
—Major spoilers ahead—
Note: I cursed a lot in this post.
No, it’s not because it’s bad. It’s actually a pretty good film, if you make it past the first three minutes of it where this fat naked guy confesses that he had sex with his daughter, or the next few minutes after that where a man angrily roams around a gay BDSM club called “The Rectum” as another man begs to be fisted. Or the scene where Angry Man’s friend repeatedly smashes a fire extinguisher onto a man’s face until it’s squished. And, fuck, kudos to you if you’re still able to finish the whole thing after seeing the most excruciating 10 minutes of the film. You are one disgusting fuck. (I’ll elaborate on those 10 minutes later.)
I made a mistake because had I known that this French film would contain some incredibly disturbing material, I would’ve gladly picked Spirited Away. Very, very gladly.
Okay, we get it, you’re disturbed by this movie. Now, tell us about those ‘excruciating’ 10 minutes already. I’m actually not sure if that scene was exactly 10 minutes, but it sure as hell felt like it. Longer, actually. So Marcus’s (the angry man) girlfriend, Alex, left a party earlier than he did because she was pissed off at him for being so high and shit. She hailed a taxi cab, which was on the other side of the road, and was having a hard time crossing because so many fast cars were passing by. A woman suggested that she try the subway, since it’s much easier.
So Alex tried the subway. While walking in the middle of the tunnel, this douchebag of a man came in with a transgender hooker and beat her repeatedly, until he saw Alex’s presence. God, just thinking about that man makes me want to hurl. He let go of the hooker, who hurriedly escaped the subway, and the douchebag turned his attention to Alex.
The next few minutes were utterly disgusting that I don’t have the will to elaborate it any further. It was just plain fucking disgusting, okay, don’t fucking watch this movie. Take note that the film was shot continuously so it made things much worse. Alex’s cries and the way that asshole treated her were enough to make me sick. The worst thing about it? After he was done with her, he mercilessly kicked her face twice and repeatedly smashed her head onto the ground until she became unconscious. Fucking monster, I tell you. I don’t care if it’s acting; the actor who played that role is a monster to me.
Again, we get that you’re disgusted by the movie. But why do you still call it a ‘brilliant film’? It was brilliant because, although I was so close to unleashing all the contents of my stomach, it still kept me on my toes the whole time. And since the film’s story was shown in reverse (the credits were literally the first to be shown; the letters were also in reverse), I wasn’t asking myself what was going to happen next, but rather, I was asking how and why these things happened. What led Marcus to look for this La Tenia guy? Why was he livid? Who’s this other guy he was with? What the hell is the purpose of that disgusting naked dude in the beginning (I never got an answer for this one)?
Yes, Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible is twisted. But the acting was so on point that you can’t help but sympathize with some of the characters, and have the urge to kill the others. I definitely don’t recommend this film to anyone who has had a traumatic past or a weak heart (no jumpscares, but it is gory). And I recommend it to the people who want to challenge themselves to watch something different. You’re a sick bastard if you complete this film without feeling disgusted, I’m telling you.
I’m screwed now. I have no idea how to write a reaction paper about this in a decent, swear-free way. I knew I really should have given Spirited Away a chance. Damn it.
Roger Ebert (US film critic): “Irreversible” is a movie so violent and cruel that most people will find it unwatchable.
Me: Try me.
—some hours later—
Me: Okay, you’re right.