Irrversible AKA Irreversible (Blu-ray) [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Powerhouse Films
Review written by and copyright: Rick Curzon (12th April 2021).
The Film

Perhaps the quintessential exemplar of New French Extremity, Irreversible amazed and outraged audiences across the world upon its release in 2002 with its harrowing scenes of rape and violence. Now Gaspar Nos nauseating, thrilling, ingenious masterwork returns in a new 2K restoration, both in its original theatrical cut and a potent new straight cut, assembled in 2020.

Video

Utterly merciless crime drama dealing with rape and revenge amongst French lowlifes caused a stir when first released and it gets the deluxe treatment from Powerhouse Films in the UK. Included are the original theatrical cut with it's non-linear narrative and a newly created (2019) straight cut which reassembles the film in chronological order; a similar thing was done with Christopher Nolan's Memento (2000) from around the same time. This film really puts the viewer through the ringer.

Both versions seem to be taken from the same source as the book that accompanies these discs states:

The Original Theatrical Cut and the Straight Cut of Irreversible were both remastered in 2019 by Gaspar No. The film was originally shot in Super 16mm using Aaton XTR Prod and Aaton A-Minima cameras. Post-production, special effects, and grading took place digitally at 2K, and the film was re-output to 35mm for theatrical screenings.


Disc one which contains the theatrical feature plus all extras in a BD50 (dual layered) and disc two which contains only the straight, liner version is a BD25 (single layered).

This is a grainy, highly visually textured Super16 viewing experience with a rich, highly stylised visual palette that favours a hot overall look from the striking red credits at the beginning through it's gritty, nihilistic scenes much of this is at nighttime or in darkened heavily red-lit interiors. Fleshtones are vivid, yet naturalistic getting darker and warmer when lit as such. Colour delineation is very strong with no signs of bleed or smear which is amazing given the lower resolution film stock and handheld camerawork.

Black levels are damn near perfect considering the problematic source with lots of stygian depths. Shadow detail is excellent for 16mm and I could see very little unintended crush; mainly in darker scenes but it was comparatively little. Contrast really pops throughout ensuring no blown out highlights and grain and detail are always visible. This is an exceptionally filmic presentation of an exceptionally muscular and unrelenting double-slap of filmmaking intensity. No digital tinkering, no compression artefacts.

The encode is peerless in what must've been one of the toughest jobs to do ... at least of the titles I've been sent to review over the years. Hats off to David MacKenzie and his team at Fidelity in Motion who've almost certainly presided over what will be considered one of the discs of the year.

Bravo! Top marks!

1080/24p / AVC MPEG-4 / 2.4:1 / 97:26, 89:34

Audio

French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Stereo
Subtitles: English (optional)

First off, the 2.0 stereo track is just that; firmly in the front sound field with no surround activity unless you order your amp to force it through ProLogic II or similar. It's a powerful track but it can't hold a candle to the 5.1 which has greater range and depth all round.

This is a very active sound field with plenty of directionality. It's not going to compete with the latest James Bond epic for sheer, unadulterated room rattling blowouts, but it's been very carefully put together to throw the viewer into Iirreversible's seamy, sleazy milieu. The subwoofer is almost constantly being pricked at a low level in all club scenes. The score is unresting when it gets going although dialogue is always clear abled supported by the comprehensive subtitles.

Once again, top marks!

Extras

Audio commentary with Gaspar No (2003)

Vintage commentary in which No takes us through the film and his creation processes. Presented in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo.

"The Irreversible Odyssey" 2019 documentary (43:20)

Vintage documentary covers all the bases one could wish for and has been on every prior release of the film since the early 2000s, only this time in full HD. Presented in 1080/24p 1.78:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound that plays in full surround when forced through ProLogic II or similar. In French with optional French subtitles.

"NFT50 Q&A with Monica Bellucci, Vincent Cassel and Gaspar No: Conducted by Hannah McGill at the National Film Theatre, London on 11 October 2002" 2002 audio interview (49:07)
"The BFI Masterclass with Gaspar No: Conducted by David Cox at London's BFI Southbank on 16 October 2009" 2009 audio interview (90:06)


Two excellent, English language Q&A with all speakers coming off very clearly in lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. Audio only, no subtitles alas.

"Rudolphe Chabrier" 2003 interview (7:28)

Short, vintage interview with SPFX maestro Chabrier that has been on most if not all prior releases. Upscaled 1080/24p 1.78:1 with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound in French with optional English subtitles. Plays in full surround when forced through ProLogic II or similar.

"Time Destroys All Things: Alexandra Heller-Nicholas on Irreversible" 2021 featurette (14:32)

Visual essay by seasoned academic Heller-Nicholas in 2.4:1 and split screen 1080/24p with lossy Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo. Plays in full surround when forced through ProLogic II or similar.

Deleted Scene (0:37)

Short deleted scene with no dialogue in upscaled 1080/24p 2.4:1 with LPCM 2.0 mono.

Music Videos (Play All - 9:18):
- "Stress" by Thomas Bangalter (4:43)
- "Outrage" by Thomas Bangalter (4:35)


Two score videos presented in upscaled 1080/24p 2.4:1 with LPCM 2.0 surround sound that automatically played through the entire sound field without having to switch the amp to ProLogic II.

"Intoxication" 2002 short film (5:09)

Short film made by No presented in upscaled 1080/24p 2.4:1 with French LPCM 2.0 mono with optional English subtitles.

Original Trailers:
- Uncut 18 Certificate Trailer (1:41)
- Censored 15 Certificate Trailer (1:45)
- Teasers (Play All - 3:16):
-- Teaser #1 (0:29)
-- Teaser #2 (0:19)
-- Teaser #3 (0:25)
-- Teaser #4 (0:45)
-- Teaser #5 (0:36)
-- Teaser #6 (0:39)


The trailers and teasers are in upscaled 1080/24p 2.4:1 with LPCM 2.0 surround that automatically played through the entire sound field without having to switch the amp to ProLogic II.

Irreversible Image Gallery: Original Promotional Material (46 images)

Solid HD gallery.

80-page liner notes book by Anna Bogutskaya, an archival American Cinematographer article on the technical aspects of the film, a BBFC case study, an overview of contemporary critical responses, an archival for and against article by Nick James and Mark Kermode, a look at the creation of the Straight Cut, new writing on Intoxication, and film credits.
Also includes a poster


Generous hardcopy supplement that adds a colossal amount of contextual added value.

Packaging

Unspecified at this time but seems to be a hard card slipcase which houses the poster, book and disc case (not sure yet whether it's clear BD Keepcase or a digipack).

Overall

One of the most controversial French films of the last twenty years by one of France's greatest enfant terribles. A comprehensive package of extras both old and new backs up a flawless visual and aural presentation that contains two versions of the film. Easily THE definitive release on the home video format for this film until someone does it in 4K, which is possible but at the moment unlikely. A juggernaut release destined to be on many best of lists come year end. GET IT BOUGHT!*


* Only those who can take it; who appreciate challenging cinema.

The Film: B Video: A+ Audio: A+ Extras: A+ Overall: A+

 


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