Written by Tim Palmer
Written by Tim Palmer

Published by Palgrave Macmillan in December 2014.

Gaspar Noé's Irreversible is uncompromising and visceral, an essential piece of modern cinema. Punctuated by dazzling avant-garde techniques, the film depicts, in reverse-chronological order, a woman's rape and her boyfriend and friend's subsequent hunt for vengeance through the underworld of Paris. Confrontational yet influential, Irreversible has polarized audiences since its release in 2002, making it until now almost impossible to study dispassionately.

This first book-length study of Irreversible situates Noé's work in the ecosystem of contemporary French media, exploring how Irreversible and a larger-scale cinéma du corps actually inspired France's film resurgence in the early twenty-first century. From there, Palmer shows Irreversible to be one of the most subversive star vehicles in recent world cinema, in the form of its iconic lead performers, Vincent Cassel, Monica Bellucci, and Albert Dupontel. Investigating the spectrum of reactions created by Noé's film — through its pugnacious stylistic design, its on-screen deconstruction of Paris, its international critical reception and its unexpectedly utopian counterpoints to violence and despair — the book generates a new rational dialogue about Irreversible that challenges any instinct simply to reject or condemn it.

About the Author

Tim Palmer is Professor of Film Studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, USA. He is the author of Brutal Intimacy: Analyzing Contemporary French Cinema (Wesleyan University Press, 2011), and co-editor of Directory of World Cinema: France (Intellect, 2013). His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities.


"This is a comprehensive, multi-modal study of an important, if difficult film. Anyone interested in contemporary French cinema should read this intelligent, well-written book - even if they don't like Irreversible." - Alan Williams, Professor of Cinema Studies, Rutgers University, USA, and author of Republic of Images: A History of French Filmmaking

"Irreversible is as scandalous and indispensable as any movie of our time. Palmer's outstanding study reveals it as both a consummation of contemporary French film and a profoundly original achievement in cinematic shock and awe." - David Sterritt, Adjunct Professor, Maryland Institute College of Art, USA, and editor-in-chief of Quarterly Review of Film and Video

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