starring Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel, Albert Dupontel, Philippe Nahon
written and directed by Gaspar Noé
"You know what? Time destroys all things."
by Bill Chambers SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. That's the opening line of dialogue in Irréversible, meaning it comes after the closing titles, which scroll down the screen backwards and are followed by back-to-front names in block letters. Each word lands with a percussive thud ("Bellucci!" "Noé!") echoed in the sound produced by a fire extinguisher in one of the two scenes everybody's talking about: Director Gaspar Noé's secondary conceit (the primary we'll discuss momentarily) is a kind of reverse foreshadowing, with disturbing noises and gestures recontextualized elsewhere, invoking the standby "Hindsight is 20/20." A film that appeals to the pessimist in us, Irréversible may make you think of Memento, but where Memento was about destiny, Irréversible is cynicially hopeful (if there is such a thing), illustrating the human impulse to look to the past for happy endings--Bogey's bogus reassurance that "we'll always have Paris."