for some reason all the movies I’m seeing lately seem to be French with subtitles, must be that time of the season. The movie I watched late last night on dvd though, caught me entirely by surprise, I’d vaguely heard of it before as there had been an uproar about a ten minute rape scene in it, and lots of calls to ban it (it may have been banned here for a short while, someone will no doubt know) so I wasn’t sure what to expect, maybe more sensationalist rubbish, what I found though was a quite brilliant portrayal of injustice, brutality, love and revenge.
The movie starts at the end and works towards the beginning, scene after scene, so the story by unrolling backwards is ‘irreversible’ and that is quite disconcerting. There is no hoping that the characters might escape their horrific fate, and no introduction to the characters before their fate overtakes them, first we see what has happened and then we slowly work backwards to find out what led up to the events and who the characters were who were involved, and the more we find out about them, the more horrific their fate seems and the more appalled we are that it is irreversible.
The strange thing about this movie is that it seems more ‘realistic’ than many films operating in the standard direction (99.9% of them) as for once we’re not watching fate with all its possibilities evolve, there is no manipulation of circumstances, no hope, you have to face reality head-on, the hero does not escape the ticking bomb, boy and girl do not run away together, and the sheer destructiveness, cruelty and injustice of rape is burned onto the screen.
The rape scene itself which caused so much uproar is entirely necessary, the banal brutality is laid out in front of the viewer, in real-time, no punches pulled. It is not melodramatic, it is not sensationalist, the audience have to make their own observations and for that reason it is one of the most affecting portrayals of violence I have seen, the viewer is forced to engage their own morals.
Any self-proclaimed ‘watchdog’ which tried to ban this film is as naive as an Ostrich with its head in the sand, this film should be seen, it is effective, intelligent and powerful; and in the end, more moral than bland sermonizing.