Director: Gaspar Noé
Told in a backwards order, experimental French auteur Gaspar Noé's Irréversible depicts the aftereffects of one of cinema's all-time most shocking rape scenes. Clocking in at nearly 11 minutes long, the unbearably savage sequence is the film's centerpiece, boosted into highly challenging performance art by Monica Bellucci's superb performance. That the rape doesn't totally overshadow everything else in Irréversible is a testament to its overall power.
In addition to the sight of a guy's head getting smashed in with a fire extinguisher, shot in an extreme close-up, Noé's visceral mind-basher of a film operates with an intense sense of dread; credit the unshakeable sensation to the director's decision to open with a dizzying and nightmarish trip through a seedy gay nightclub that culminates in the aforementioned skull-crushing. Once that scene ends, one gets the feeling that they're in the hands of a dangerous filmmaker, giving the remainder of Irréversible a haunting command on the nerves.