Events over the course of one traumatic night in Paris unfold in reverse-chronological order as the beautiful Alex (Monica Bellucci) is brutally raped and beaten by a stranger in the underpass. Her boyfriend and ex-lover take matters into their own hands by hiring two criminals to help them find the rapist so that they can exact revenge. A simultaneously beautiful and terrible examination of the destructive nature of cause and effect, and how time destroys everything.

It shows how fleeting happiness can be, how quickly your life can be transformed...

Irreversible is, like Memento, a movie told backwards. It starts with the end credits, then, with weirdly off-centre camera angles, captures an enigmatic conversation between two men, one of them the central character of director Gaspar Noe\'s previous film, I Stand Alone. Next comes a chaotic scene in a dimly lit gay bar; the camera is all over the place, and you can hardly see what\'s happening - but you can hear the sounds of horror as one man bludgeons another to death with a fire extinguisher. And, as the film backtracks, the camerawork - mercifully - gets more controlled and the storyline begins to emerge: a young woman was raped and murdered, and her boyfriend and his mate hunt down the killer.

Once you put this film back in its correct order, there\'s really nothing very much to it: I suppose it shows how fleeting happiness can be, how quickly your life can be transformed, how awful the cycle of violence and revenge can be (but House Of Sand And Fog does that better). Noe is talented, no doubt about that, and his leading actors, Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci - the later soon to be seen in Mel Gibson\'s The Passion Of The Christ - are talented too. But too often Irreversible seems like shock for shock\'s sake. I\'m glad we\'re able to see it - there never should have been any doubt about that - but I can\'t very enthusiastically recommend it.