Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
San Jose Mercury News:
Once the shock wears off and feeling returns to the extremities, Irreversible is unmistakably life-altering and affirming.
Noe's summation is an ideological sucker-punch from a filmmaker who gets off on abusive relationships.
Detroit Free Press:
Extremely difficult to endure, and if you choose to endure it, it could leave you feeling angry and upset. Nevertheless, this is serious filmmaking, and Noe is a gifted filmmaker.
It is a work specifically designed to disturb and disgust, and it accomplishes both goals so completely some people will find it impossible to watch at all.
Ebert & Roeper:
I hope people who go to see this don't walk out in the first ten minutes or after that scene, because I think you have to experience the entire film. And then you can decide whether or not you're offended by it.
The hard, lurid images catch you in a vise. But dramatically, with few exceptions, it's a mess.
New York Times:
The frenzied momentum churns up a lot of adrenaline and stomach acid for Irreversible. But the performances certainly don't stir up much emotion.
Los Angeles Times:
Noe isn't concerned with subverting the status quo. Indeed, what he really seems to want to do is make a Hollywood movie.
So formally and stylistically aggressive that this aspect overpowers what it has to say, which isn't much.
Dallas Morning News:
It's a gritty, vicious assault on the senses, one that very nearly evaporates due to writer-director Gaspar Noe's short-changing of the narrative.
The opening 50 minutes are brutal, but if you can take the punishment, you'll probably be wowed by Noe's skills as a filmmaker.
What's apparent about Irreversible is that, at some point, the message about and depiction of violence becomes violence itself.
New York Observer:
Convinces me as nothing else so far that I have reached the point of diminishing returns with movies that pretend to be profound by having their pulpy, banal stories told backwards and sideways and upside-down.
Those up to a challenge who attend with an open mind will find something to gnaw at the soul.
The reverse chronology makes Irreversible a film that structurally argues against rape and violence, while ordinary chronology would lead us down a seductive narrative path toward a shocking, exploitative payoff.
Gaspar Noe's horrifying film about rape and revenge erases the boundaries between porn and exploitation.
San Francisco Chronicle:
Is there a point to this spew, a cry against the mongrel violence of men? Or is Noe merely a sadist who enjoys inflicting ugly, pitiless images on his audience?
There is nothing moral about Irreversible -- only sneeringly superior and nihilistic, like Johnny Rotten at his most fatuous.
At once overwhelming and inconsequential, harrowing and banal, gimmicky and humourless, overheated and undercooked, this mega-hyped French movie may represent the ultimate triumph of cynicism in the global trade in non-English-language movies.
Without an episode to develop character, Noe can't really finesse the 180-degree transition to show how a single event can irrevocably transform lives.
Noe's stunt is an exploitation movie with a gimmick, not to mention a vacuous philosophy.