Within the first 20 minutes of French filmmaker Gaspar Noé’s polarizing flick Irréversible, which is told in reverse order, a hallucinogenic tour of a sordid gay men’s club culminates with a dude’s skull getting bashed into oatmeal by a fire extinguisher. But that’s nowhere near the movie’s most uncomfortable scene.
In a brave and unbelievably committed performance, Monica Bellucci plays Alex, the film’s most tragic character, whose rape triggers the story’s downward spiral of events. And, boy, is that rape hellish. Without any edits or camera movements, Noé lets his lens rest as pregnant Alex gets viciously assaulted—penetration, punches, and kicks—by a stranger in an underpass. The sequence lasts nearly 11 minutes; whether that’s artistic gallantry or sadistic overkill on Noé’s part is the viewer’s own call.