When Irréversible (Gaspar Noé, 2002) was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2002, David Ansen, in a review for Newsweek, predicted that it would become the most ‘walked-out-of’ movie of 2003. However, by the time Ansen’s article went to press, the film had already received the Bronze Horse Award at the Stockholm Film Festival 2003, and would then go on to win the San Diego Film Critics Society (SDFCS) Award for Best Foreign Language film in 2003. When Saw (James Wan, 2004) was released, popular film critic Roger Ebert considered it not ‘quite worth the ordeal it puts us through’ (2004a). The same film spawned a horror franchise that has since been declared ‘the most successful’ by Guinness World Records (2010). Marina de Van’s debut, Dans Ma Peau (2002), won an award at the Fant-Asia Film Festival in 2003 where, according to film critic Peter Bradshaw, writing for The Guardian, the film ‘had people staggering for the aisles here, hands clamped over mouths, cheeks ballooning’ (Bradshaw, 2003). The most striking aspect of these films is not that they won an award, broke box office records or caused a mass walk-out, but that there is something about each of them that has resulted in both high acclaim and severe criticism.
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