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Irreversible (2002)

Irréversible (original title)
Not Rated | | Crime, Drama, Mystery | 22 May 2002 (France)
1:51 | Trailer

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Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Alex (as Bellucci)
Marcus (as Cassel)
Pierre (as Dupontel)
Jo Prestia ...
Le Tenia (as Prestia)
L'homme (as Nahon)
Stéphane Drouot ...
Stéphane (as Drouot)
Jean-Louis Costes ...
Fistman (as Costes)
Mick (as Gondouin)
Mourad Khima ...
Mourad (as Khima)
Hellal ...
Nato ...
Fesche ...
Chauffeur Taxi
Jara-Millo ...
Concha (as Jaramillo)
Le Quellec ...
Isabelle Giami ...
Copine d'Alex enceinte (as Giami)


Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass. Her boyfriend and ex-lover take matters into their own hands by hiring two criminals to help them find the rapist so that they can exact revenge. A simultaneously beautiful and terrible examination of the destructive nature of cause and effect, and how time destroys everything. Written by Denny Gibbons

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Kokoro wo yusaburu ai no monogatari[Japan] See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





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Release Date:

22 May 2002 (France)  »

Also Known As:

Irreversible  »

Box Office

Opening Weekend:

$305,702 (Italy) (24 May 2002)


$753,501 (USA) (18 April 2003)

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
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Technical Specs



Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Monica Bellucci and Jo Prestia completed six takes of the rape scene over two nights. Bellucci claimed the first take was actually the easiest to do, since on subsequent takes she had a heightened awareness of what was going to happen and had to prevent this from interfering with her characterization. See more »


At the party Vincent Cassel gives his characters name as "Vincent" instead of "Marcus." He quickly covers his mistake and saves the scene. See more »


Mourad: Have you broken your arm, my friend?
See more »

Crazy Credits

As would be expected of a film which runs backwards, the "end credits" are actually displayed at the beginning of the film. There are no credits at the end of the film, except for a title card which reads "Le temps détruit tout" (Time destroys everything). There are no studio logos after this. See more »


Referenced in My Pure Joy (2011) See more »


La Queuleuleu
Written by Guy Lux (as G. Lux) and Gérard Tempesti (as G. Tempesti)
Performed by André Bézu (as Bézu)
Editions Master Music / Fil Rouge
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Challenging and unsuccessful but worth seeing as part of experiencing the diverse world of cinema and creativity, pleasant or not
17 February 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

When his girlfriend Alex is brutally raped in an underpass, boyfriend Marcus and Alex's ex-boyfriend Pierre are approached by a couple of criminal types who claim to know who did it and lead Marcus on the path to revenge via hookers and a man in a brutal gay club known as the Rectum.

I shan't waste my time or yours by writing more of a plot to this film than that because this is all quite thin stuff. Normally I find myself gradually engaged by a film as it develops characters and stories however with Irréversible I was gripped immediately but the effect worked in reverse, just like the film. Others have asked why this film is told backwards, with some waxing lyrical about the film demonstrating the nature of actions and consequences. I don't buy this and I almost believe that the film is structured this way because Noé knows that his film is not good enough to engage the audience with the development of the story and characters to the point where they would still care by the end. Whereas, by starting with his biggest and most impacting sequences he has preventing the audience thinking "this is going nowhere" by putting us right where it is going to.

Of course what this means is that the film genuinely has nowhere to go to because the developmental issue is still there – albeit the need to see roots rather than branches. With this there is nothing and I felt myself becoming more and more disappointed with the film as it went on as it seemed to offer nothing but missed potential. Unlike Memento (which was a thriller with the reason being to find out what caused the end), Irréversible's ending is an act of violence and revenge that, in essence occurs out of bad fortune rather than a series of events that are worth holding out for. With this in mind the focus comes more on the characters and their relationships to find a reason to make the impacting opening to the film feel that much more impacting. Sadly it does fall down and despite some interesting stuff that might have gone somewhere (if not to the actual crime), themes of sexual intimacy, differences in men and women and so on are just suggested but never delivered upon and my interest and respect for the film waned frighteningly quickly.

It is a terrible shame because the film had initially won me over quickly. With the first shots of spinning camera, "irrelevant" men and disorientating delivery I prepared myself to hate this film and slate it for being pretentious. This feeling didn't subside much as we were thrown into a gay club ending with an intensely brutal scene of violence that quite sickened me. The reason for this is almost the following scene where we see the beautiful and classy Alex brutally and meaninglessly sodomised on the floor of a dirty underpass for no other reason than being in the wrong place at the wrong time and the wrong sex. With my eyes at the time I found these scenes to be quite brilliant but finding out later there was nothing beyond them I take a dimmer view. In his defence, Noé's sequences should not be mentioned in the same breath as the recent Holly wood trend for torture porn because there is nothing erotic here. The rape scene in particular is disturbing, sickening and based on violence, certainly not sex, attraction or arousal. Some comments on IMDb have disturbed me and shown that some people will still "enjoy" these scenes – one particular comment saying "fans of rape movie will appreciate" the sequence I felt was in particular poor taste. However for me it is as effective as it is unpleasant, Noé does not adopt the angles, style or nudity of pornography and indeed leaves the camera on the floor and lets the actors deliver an experience that is undeniably cruel and wrong. Viewers who chose to get off on that will do so however for those of us not stimulated by the violent degradation of another the effect will be harrowing.

The cast are good where they are caught up in things. Cassel is convincing in his revenge scenes but has less to work with in the later (earlier) scenes. Likewise Bellucci is amazing in her key scene; utterly convincing and heart-wrenching in her agony and I can only imagine how difficult it was for her to shoot. Dupontel is interesting but his performance would have benefited from going from innocence to violence and not the other way round. Prestia is a convincing human version of Satan, who is sickeningly real. Noé's direction is impressive even if his ability as writer is not. His camera earlier on matches the frantic violent mood of his characters but gradually calms down. Quite what he is saying with where the film goes or how it ends is beyond me but by then he had done sufficiently little to convince that I shouldn't worry myself too much.

Overall an impacting "experience" film that starts out with the potential to be a challenging and difficult art film. However with nothing past these scenes of significant value, the backward telling just seems like a way of having the "big" scenes before losing the audience, rather than afterwards and for all my appreciation and admiration for his intense and creative technique as director, I found Noé the writer to be lacking. In summary I'm not sure if I liked this or not or if it is worth seeing but it is certainly an experience that should be seen by those looking for a diverse taste of cinema whether it is "enjoyable" or not.

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