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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Irréversible (2002, France) is a film written, directed, edited, and photographed by Gaspar Noé. It stars Monica Bellucci and Vincent Cassel. Several reviewers declared it one of the most disturbing and controversial films of 2002, due to its explicit depiction of rape and murder. The film employs non-linear narrative.

Irréversible won the "Bronze Horse" award at the Stockholm Film Festival and was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, as well as the "Best Foreign Language Award" by the Film Critics Circle of Australia. It was also voted "Best Foreign Language Film" by the San Diego Film Critics Society (tied with Les Invasions Barbares).


Irréversible contains thirteen scenes presented in reverse chronological order. They are arranged here in chronological order.

  1. A young Italian woman living in France named Alex (Monica Bellucci) is reading An Experiment with Time by J. W. Dunne in a park, surrounded by playing children. Beethoven's 7th Symphony is heard in the background. The camera spins around faster and faster until it blacks out into a strobe effect, accompanied by a pulsing, roaring sound. A rapidly spinning image of a lawn sprinkler resembling the cosmos can be dimly perceived. A title card reads: "Le Temps Detruit Tout" ("Time destroys everything")Template:Snda phrase uttered in the film's first scene. The film ends.
  2. Alex sits on the bed clothed, her hand on her belly. A poster for Stanley Kubrick's 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, with the tagline "The Ultimate Trip", is above the headboard.
  3. Alex lies in bed with Marcus (Vincent Cassel) after having sex. Alex reveals she might be pregnant, and Marcus is pleased with the possibility. They prepare to go to a party, and Marcus leaves to buy wine. Alex takes a shower, then uses a home pregnancy test that confirms she is pregnant. She is elated.
  4. At a nearby Paris Métro station and aboard a subway train, Alex, Marcus and Pierre (Albert Dupontel) are on their way to a party. They discuss sex, and Pierre refers to the fact that he and Alex were once dating, but are no longer in a relationship. He implies that Marcus stole Alex from him.
  5. Alex, Marcus, and Pierre have arrived at the party. Alex is annoyed by Marcus's unrestrained use of drugs and alcohol and his flirtatious behavior with other women, and consequently decides to leave the party alone.
  6. On her way home, Alex sees a pimp called "Le Tenia" ("The Tapeworm") (Jo Prestia) beating a transsexual prostitute named Concha (Jaramillo) in a pedestrian underpass. Once the man sees Alex, he releases Concha and turns his attention to Alex, who attempts to flee, but Le Tenia catches her and threatens her with a knife. Le Tenia pins Alex to the ground and anally rapes her for several minutes of screentime, after which he brutally beats her into unconsciousness.
  7. Marcus and Pierre leave the party and encounter commotion on the street. Marcus wails as he discovers Alex's bloodied body being wheeled on a stretcher into an ambulance by paramedics.
  8. Alex is hospitalized and revealed to be comatose. Marcus and Pierre are questioned by the police. They then talk to a street thug named Mourad (Mourad Khima) and his friend Layde (Hellal). The two gangsters promise, if they get paid, to help them find the rapist, who Mourad claims is Le Tenia. Marcus and Pierre go looking for the man who raped Alex. Marcus is still high on drugs and very agitated.
  9. The men track down Concha, Le Tenia's last victim. At first, she refuses to talk to them. After Marcus threatens to slash her with a piece of broken glass, she identifies Le Tenia as the rapist and says he can be found at a gay BDSM nightclub called The Rectum. They are soon chased by angry sex workers seeking to defend Concha. Mourad and Layde run in a separate direction.
  10. Marcus and Pierre hail a taxi. Following a row, Marcus assaults the taxi driver and steals the car.
  11. Marcus and Pierre go to The Rectum, but do not know what Le Tenia looks like. Marcus finds Le Tenia standing with another man. Thinking the other man is Le Tenia, he assaults him, but the man wrestles Marcus to the ground, breaks Marcus's arm, and attempts to rape Marcus on the club floor. Pierre defends Marcus by using a fire extinguisher to crush the man's skull, thus killing him. Le TeniaTemplate:Sndthe source of all the havocTemplate:Sndstands there groggily, perhaps not believing he got away with it.
  12. Police arrest Pierre and put him in handcuffs. An ambulance arrives, and Marcus is put on a stretcher and taken from the club. Outside, Mourad and Layde shout homophobic insults at Pierre and Marcus. The murdered man is revealed not to be Le Tenia after all. Rather, the man standing next to him in the club was the real Le Tenia.
  13. Across the street in a small apartment, two men are talking about sex. One of them is "the Butcher", the protagonist of Noé's previous film, I Stand Alone. In a drunken monologue, the Butcher reveals that he was arrested for having sex with his own daughter. The subject of their discussion shifts to the commotion in the streets outside. Without looking out the window, they derisively attribute the commotion to the patrons of The Rectum. Outside, Mourad is seen talking to a police officer.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Irréversible" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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