Gaspar Noé is an Argentine-born filmmaker who rose to fame in France as a highly provocative auteur. From his start in filmmaking, Noé became known for broaching taboo and disturbing subjects in his films. His style tends to present these subjects in an emotionally jarring way, combining shocking imagery with an almost hypnotic film structure.
All of Gaspar Noé’s movies are fantastic, but they can be difficult to watch. This list arranges Noé’s movies from least to most disturbing, allowing you to acclimate yourself to Noé’s style before jumping into the deep end. Slight spoilers are unavoidable since the most shocking parts of Noé’s films tend to be the most important. His latest film Vortex (2021) is not ranked because it has not received a wide release yet.
Also, in addition to the extremely sensitive subject matter of Gaspar Noé’s movies, his movies often use flickering lights which can be problematic for people who are photosensitive.
Unless constant arguing by pretty much everyone on a film set is particularly upsetting for you, Lux Æterna is easily Gaspar Noé’s least disturbing movie. One of the characters (Charlotte Gainsbourg playing herself) has a brief phone call in which she learns that her daughter may have been hurt in school, but nothing is shown. Other than that, the most distressing part of the movie is all the bickering and shouting.
5. Love (2015)
By attempting to convey the emotions of an intense relationship from its beginning to its tragic end, Gaspar Noé’s Love can leave you feeling upset. The most unnerving part of Love is when the main character, Murphy, becomes verbally and emotionally abusive towards his girlfriend when things don’t go his way. Also, viewers offended by unsimulated sex on-screen will want to avoid Love, because there is a lot of it.
The visual style of Enter the Void is often very languid and dreamy, so the suddenness at which some of the violence depicted on-screen (such as a shooting experienced in first-person view and a fatal car wreck) is unnerving. The movie is also very graphic in its depictions of life and death, including an abortion shown during and after the process, and an extremely up-close view of a baby being conceived. There are also visual references to incestuous feelings.
Though there is some brutal violence and uncensored sex, the most unsettling element of I Stand Alone is the constant narration of a profoundly disturbed man. We hear the man come up with plans to commit a murder/suicide, justify horrible actions including repeatedly punching a pregnant woman in the stomach, and consider an incestuous relationship with his daughter. His droning narration gets more intense and disturbing as the movie nears its finale.
As the drug-infused situation in Climax gets more out-of-control, the camera floats and swings wildly through a tableau of sex and carnage. This gives the viewer a sustained feeling of uneasiness even though some of the more disturbing elements are difficult to see clearly. We do see a lot though, including self-harm, beatings, incestuous rape, dead bodies, urination, and someone getting their hair caught on fire.
The centerpiece of Irréversible is the horrifically brutal rape of a woman, agonizingly acted out by Monica Bellucci. The scene goes on for what feels like an eternity, with most of the sequence playing out in a single, unbearably still shot. Other scenes in the movie also contain brutal violence and graphic sexual acts, but nothing else Gaspar Noé has created can match the horrifying intensity of Irréversible‘s rape scene.