That’s NOT Entertainment.


A film that stays in your head despite how much you wish it wouldn't.

When you’re a kid you test your courage in different ways and lot of them are dumb.  Climbing too high in a tree, eating some disgusting insect or picking a fight with another kid twice your size.   These things never end well.

Then there’s movies we watch for no other reason than they are disturbing.   Not disturbing like your typical Hollywood horror movie serving up dead-teenagers-on-a-stick as the film critic Joe Bob Briggs once described slasher flicks.   I don’t care how many horny babysitters and jocks Jason or Freddy or Michael Myers stab, slash and dismember.   I’ve never been into those kind of mindless kill-a-thons.   They’re fine for those who enjoy that kind of thing.  They can have my share.

The type of movies I find troubling are the ones that climb behind your eyeballs and set up house in your head.  Films such as Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Audition, Irreversible, Requiem For A Dream, Last Exit to Brooklyn, A Clockwork Orange and Caligula.

Some of these movies are really quite good like Requiem For A Dream and A Clockwork Orange as opposed to Caligula which is just pornographic trash, but one with a big budget and well-known actors.   Caligula is gross, stupid and jaw-droppingly awful in its blood-letting, disembowlings, dismembering  thrown in on top of the blow jobs and other explicit sex scenes.    One day when I work  up the nerve I’ll go into some specifics about why Caligula is hands-down the absolute worst movie I have ever seen.

Speaking of gross-outs, let me tell you about Irreversible.

The premise is as simple as it is repulsive.  A beautiful woman is walking alone through a subway tunnel.   Over the next 10 minutes she will be threatened, beaten and raped.

A brutal reminder that rape is not a Hollywood plot device.

A brutal reminder that rape is not a Hollywood plot device.

We get to watch.

Irreversible is not a good movie.   The movie rests on two scenes–one of  stomach-churning violence and a prolonged, painfully graphic rape and beating  to carry it for two hours and it can’t do it.   Wrapped around a scene of a man’s head caved in with a fire extinguisher and Monica Bellucci as Alex, suffering through being anally penetrated and repeatedly kicked in the face by a brutal pimp is a extremely talky, dull, pretentious as hell and  pretty dull story of a woman and the two men who both love her and go off on a misguided search for revenge with awful consequences.

Oh, and did I mention the story is told backwards from the end to the beginning?   A fun movie Irreversible is not.  From the opening the director, Gaspar Noe    You don’t enjoy it as much as you endure it.   And you’ll feel very bad when its over.   If you’re still awake.

Tell me again, HOW much Im getting paid for this crappy movie?

"Tell me again, HOW much I'm getting paid for this crappy movie?"

What makes Irreversible such an unsettling experience is the way Noe films the rape.  For ten minutes he turns the camera on Bellucci being savagely raped and he leaves it on.  There are no cuts and no edits.   Noe lingers on the assault with sadistic glee and denies the audience any relief beyond closing their eyes.

I’ve seen more disturbingly ugly scenes than Irreversible punishes the viewer with, but never as prolonged and never as distressingly cruel.   Telling yourself, “Okay, it’s only a movie and Monica Bellucci didn’t really get raped,”  isn’t much help.   I know she wasn’t really raped.  I just feel like she did and that’s upsetting enough.

To further push the buttons of the audience Noe plays head games.    The two male  “heroes” search for Alex’s assailaint, La Tenia (The Tapeworm–charming)  in a S&M gay bar called The Rectum and end up attacking and killing the wrong man while the real La Tenia stands by and watches.

It seems perverse to call a movie like Irreversible, “entertainment.”   It’s a geek show with pretensions of greater meaning.   That’s bullshit.   Who wants to see a man’s head crushed by a fire extinguisher?   Who wants to see a woman anally raped and kicked in the face?   Only a sadist or a masochist, which I am neither.

Rape has become almost trivialized the way it is portrayed in most conventional films and network television.   Watch this shit and you’ll never be blase about rape again.   I can almost guarantee that.

7 thoughts on “That’s NOT Entertainment.

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    • Must not be too terrible. You thought enough of it to crticize my critique. By the way, this is NOT a review. It’s a critique of how the movie trivializes and exploits rape and violence. If your mind is so much more expansive than mine, you should be able to discern the difference.


  3. All art has a message. You may not like the message but the question when writing a critique is: How completely was that message conveyed?

    I agree with James D’s brief comment above. This review by Jeff is erroneous dribble.

    During time spent in college art, drama and acting courses, I have subjected myself to several types of art. Some did make me smile or cry with compassion- some I found repugnant but still, I found them to be art. And all art has meaning.

    Jeff’s scribbling is just a review. A critique requires systematic grading of all fronts of the production. To find fault, appraise and to understand the context generally requires you have at least a notion of a professional degree in the arts. Just because you make jabs with a rapier doesn’t make you a swordsman.

    His review missed all of the theatrical layers and detail in the work Irreversible, a intense and provocative tragedy made by Gaspar Noé. This ‘film buff’ should stick to Hollywood and Walt Disney’s lame and capitalistic portrayal of popular stories and let the professionals’ grade the artists like Noé.

    There is a poignant underlying statement when we compare the scenes from Irreversible against western movies depiction of rape and violence.
    In this movie, the violence isn’t cool. There’s no action packed symphonic Hans Zimmer there to hype the feeling for you. This is raw, not made for ratings and obviously more real than our friend Jeff can palette.

    This is the point I believe Gaspar is making. Acts of barbarity is atrocious.

    Killing and violence is over sensationalized in today’s society, especially in the U.S.. Most young adults accept our modern day depictions of violence as entertaining when 50 years ago it would never be considered for broadcast. Look how the times have changed!

    Compare the rape scenes in the 2009 movie Taken, a story about kidnapping, human trafficking and the all American GI Joe dad saving the day. The viewer is once again subjected to the fairy tale scenario where good prevails.
    During a time where western world movie trends focus on erotic angles, thumping bass, bad ass bruisers, and gun totting heroes, Irreversible compels the viewer to experience painful and realistic suffering through the lens of confusion and despair. This backward told narrative was intended to leave you unsettled. At the end of movie, the story has been explained completely and without unanswered questions. The excellent writing skill of Noé manages to sum up the message: violence is senseless, painful and irreversible. The final scene, first chapter, we witness happier times and good life but we the audience cannot forget what will come, undoubtedly, the worst night of the main characters lives. It leaves the intentional deep and staggering sympathy for the character Alex (rape victim).

    Irreversible is not one you bring home to the family. It is not for the light stomach or soft brain. Jeff should stick to the Hollywood’s bang for the buck type brain gruel and work to expand his theatrical and cultural horizons.

    Additionally, I would recommend Gaspar Noé’s Irreversible to anyone who is studying sociology, cinematography, film directing, other theatrical aspects or behavioral studies like perversions and rape. Just be ready. You won’t want any popcorn for this one.

    Yes Jeff Winbush. Watching the movie is “a unsettling experience”.
    But, you were unable to analyze the perverse acts presented as a statement, not a exploitation for ratings. Your additional proclamation only sadist and masochist could palette this “which [you] are neither” makes you look especially dumb. You should feel privileged James D and I spent a moment of time to comment to you rant.

    My friend hanging over my shoulder as I type would like to add something.

    Hey Jeff, You Suck!


  4. Pingback: The Audacity of “Audition:” Sex as a Weapon « The Domino Theory by Jeff Winbush

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