Offering the rather trite opening premise ‘TIME DESTROYS EVERYTHING’, Irreversible traces cause from effect in the manner of Memento charting the emergence of two blood spattered men from the entrance of nicely titled gay club ‘The Rectum’, back through vengeful murder and a now notorious ten minute rape scene, to its genesis the afternoon before; Alex (Monica Bellucci) reads a book on historical inevitability, blissfully unaware she is pregnant, blissfully unaware of her eventual ‘fate’. Yet one cannot mount a serious analysis of cause and effect if actions are not properly contextualised, and we learn little of the lives of the central characters, while the story itself floats in an uncertain cultural milieu. If this is simply ‘how life is’ – full of unintended consequences – the film is, again, self-defeating; for the sheen of realism offered by the improvised lines of the actors is compromised by the form of the film itself and the giddying camera trickery. The film is too visceral to carry a message or an argument, too pretentious, portentous and contrived to convince as verisimilitude. Where it does succeed is in its capacity to shock and offend; suffice to say that Gaspar Noé is now far more famous than he was before.