During one of the early scenes in the film, a mans face is crushed at a gay bar with what looks like a fire extinguisher. The scene is essentially one continuous and unrelenting shot that forces the viewer to be engulfed in the violence. I don’t think that it would be an exaggeration to say that this scene is one of the most intense scenes ever committed to celluloid. Unlike most films featuring violence, Irreversible doesn’t allow the viewer to feel safe or comfortable.
Irreversible also utilizes an editing technique to give the feeling that each scene is one single shot. Alfred Hitchcock used a similar technique in his film Rope, loosely based on real life child murderers Leopold and Loeb. A 2001: A Space Odyssey poster is also seen in the room of the male protagonist in Irreversible. It can be assumed that director Gaspar Noé is most certainly inspired by filmmakers of the past.
Most films that deal with France tend to give it a romanticized feel. I find that to be ridiculous and a film like Irreversible shatters that stereotype. The film shows the dark side of France with subversive subcultures, extreme violence, brutal rape, and not so aesthetically pleasing sets. Irreversible introduces a new look at France just as François Truffaut’s film did decades before. It is rare to find nowadays directors that are brave enough to bring up issues that are not often the most desirable to think about.