The film starts from the end and goes back, as the name would suggest. Visually, as I expected from a Gaspar Noé film, it’s impressive to the level that you might think… how did anyone imagine this whole film in his head. It’s breath-taking, but not as a sunrise might be, but as seeing that horse being shot and then butchered in Carne (1991).
I think visually, the way this is filmed speaks to the mood of the film and represents the way the characters feel in such a way that editing and cross editing will never achieve. It’s so direct and efficient in setting the mood in a visual way that I have rarely seen. It may appear as tiresome and sickening and even unwatchable, but it’s visual film-making at it’s best.
As for the acoustics, it complements the visuals so well. It somewhat speaks to your subconscious at some point. Most of the time you don’t even acknowledge the music and the sound effects as a separate entity because they blend but at the same time elevate the whole scene. This is due to Thomas Bangalter of Daft Punk. (Trivia via IMDb: The first 30 minutes of the film has a background noise with a frequency of 28Hz (low frequency, almost inaudible), similar to the noise produced by an earthquake. In humans, it causes nausea, sickness and vertigo. […] it was added with the purpose of getting this reaction.)
For example the scene where Vincent Cassel sees Alex for the first time gave me goose bumps like I haven’t had in such a long time from seeing a film. The reason for this is the visual, the auditive, the make-up and the acting. Great scene, I really liked this one. Also the one with Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci (they are husband and wife in real life). I have rearely seen such level of reality and intimacy in a movie. Spot on Mr. Noé.
But the best scene is the one with Monica Bellucci and Jo Prestia in the pedestrian passage. It is so simply filmed yet it gives out such a horrific image. One of the best scenes I have seen ever in my entire life.
At first it reminded me of Memento (2002), but as the story unfolds one can see it’s totally on another level. I’m not saying that an upper level, but a totally different one without a doubt.
I would like to stress that the violence and the sexually graphic nature of this film is not gratuitous but on the contrary, in it being straightforward it tries to be objective, see the pathway scene (about which I really admire that it is not the climax of the movie), as it does not offer a possibility of ambiguity, and this is done mostly by, as Roger Ebert explained, putting the revenge before the crime.
This movie treated me as an adult. It will haunt me in the upcoming months.