A thought on reverse chronology in "Irreversible" directed by Gaspar Noé

To me, the reverse plot was a gimmick. However, gimmicks in films fascinate me. One of my all-time favorite movies, Alfred Hitchcock's "Rope," where the entire movie is a kind of film-making gimmick.

So, gimmicks have their place, but when the overwhelming majority of stories are told linearly, then the one of the reasons a fimmaker pulls out the non-linear plot is to be noticed, and as a challenge. Gimmicky stories initially get attention, but then the story being told has to be strong enough to keep our interest and be memorable. Quentin Tarantino has used non-linear plots before, so they can definitely be used effectively.

While I think that "Irreversible" was worth seeing, it was an unmemorable story to me. Since I saw it many years ago, I've been trying to remember the plot, and aside from the rape scene, I could not describe the film's plot to anyone. If I had to describe the movie without mentioning the rape scene or the reverse-plot gimmick, I'd be stumped.

One non-linear story I love is the book, "The Time Traveler's Wife." (Skip the movie.) This story, told in seemingly haphazard spurts, still works amazingly well because as you read the story you get more and more clues about what's going on.

So, even in a reverse-plot, or any other non-linear plot, the reader or the moviegoer still needs to have information hidden from them as they read, or as the movie progresses, until just the right moment to have the greatest emotional wallop.

That means these gimmicky films and books are not altering the tried and true model of storytelling, which to unfold a series of clues about a journey toward discovering something we did not know at the beginning of the story. After all, we can read a non-linear story or watch a non-linear film, but we are experiencing the story in a linear fashion. "Irreversible" has a beginning a middle and an end. What we are meant to believe is the end of the story is actually intended to be the beginning. The first thing we see. So, in a sense, no movie can be truly non-linear because the filmmaker is presenting the beginning, the middle, and the end, very carefully for you to experience it in your own linear way.

Anyway, while "Irreversible" was of interest to study how a movie can play with a non-linear plot, I cannot say that it worked as well as I would have liked.

/r/movies Thread