The Butcher (known from Noe's short film Carne) has done some time in jail after beating up the guy who tried to seduce his teenage mentally-handicapped daughter. Now he wants to start a new life. He leaves his daughter in an institution and moves to Lille suburbs with his mistress. She promised him a new butcher shop. She lied. The butcher decides to go back to Paris and find his daughter.Written by
Pavel Smutny <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The first-person voice-over heard throughout the film was written after principal photography was finished. Writer and director Gaspar Noé said, he was mostly drunk, when he wrote it, because he wanted to be as close as possible to the mind-set of the main character. Noé also told audiences, that the rage and frustration articulated in the voice-over was inspired by the near-poverty he experienced during the production of this self-financed debut feature. See more »
The main character tells the manager of the abattoir that he is 50 years old. However, the narration at the start of the movie states that the main character was born in 1939, and the movie is set in 1980, which would make him 40 or 41 years old. See more »
To receive an 18 certificate two shots of sexual penetration during the viewing of a hardcore sex film at a cinema were blurred for the UK release. The video featured the same optically edited print. See more »
Céline: "Almost every desire a poor man has is a punishable offense."
Gaspar Noë's first full-length film seeks to provide, and sometimes achieves, an elegantly bleak picture of the world through the eyes of a French butcher whose life has been devolving from day one. The film begins as a kind of quick documentary life, narrated over still photos with the voice-over of the butcher, played by Philippe Nahon. From here forward the voice never leaves us, moving relentlessly forward with its declarations of gloom and anger. The narrator's negativism commands our attention and even our respect because of its intensity and clarity. Perhaps this man is just a depressive, a hopeless loser. But his anger and his articulateness command attention and create an irresistible and memorable voice -- a voice quite reminiscent of the writings of Louis-Ferdinand Céline ("Journey to the End of the Night," "Death on the Installment Plan"), who like Noë's protagonist was a nihilist, fascist, and anti-Semite, and likewise shocked with his bluntness of expression. Set in 1980, the story of "I Stand Alone"/"Seul contre tous" may also be meant to reflect the thinking of a certain French underclass of that time whose desperation and resentment toward growing minorities in the country and toward the rich and the liberal bourgeoisie led them to rally behind the far right political leader Jean-Marie Le Pen.
Philippe Nahon is strong in the central role. Indeed one can hardly imagine anybody else playing it. But all the characters Nahon interacts with tend to be little more than static cameos. There are even moments when we are not sure they exist, or when his declarations seem like fantasies, and this uncertainty undermines the otherwise forceful narrative. Unfortunately also the film tends to disintegrate into excess verbiage and alternative finales in its last chapters. The nonstop narration has seemed to work well up to then, but when Noë resorts to an overlapping second voice and approaches the father's sexual violation of his daughter through panning off into the street, the voice-over becomes a wall preventing us from experiencing what's been dealt with and the hitherto blunt manner -- the obscene slangy language and the gun-shot blast divisions of images and the boldly declarative intertitles (Noë is of the nothing-succeeds-like-excess school of film-making) -- comes to seem a bit of a facade. As in the later "Irréversible" it seems as though the director's desire to shock and exploit ingenious and attention-getting cinematic techniques is greater than his willingness to develop a story and characters in depth. Nonetheless there are strong signs of a bold and original talent on display here, and of an independent point of view.
The respected critic Jonathan Rosenbaum went overboard when he classified "I Stand Alone" as a "masterpiece." Noë strives so hard to achieve profundity he dupes himself into the certain conviction that he has achieved it. Whether "I Stand Alone" will stand the test of time is a question only time, not Noë or Rosenbaum, can decide.
The film is not particularly well served by a Strand Leasing DVD providing a slightly blurry print and no extras. The Menu design however is rather handsome.
Watched on Netflix DVD November 2005.
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