I Stand Alone
Review by: Sarah Salah
The exoticness of Gaspar Noe's movies is revealed to the world through scratches in their realism that make it hateful to film critics and only tolerated by a few of them.
Carne, the 1991 short movie by Gaspar Noe about a French butcher who owned a slaughterhouse that sold horse meat- which was not unusual in France, was based on what Gaspar's father, an Argentinian by origin, had told his son about eating horse meat in France. Soon enough, the idea of a movie on a butcher selling horse meat came to Gaspar's mind. In Carne, the butcher's partner abandons him and the baby girl she has just given birth to. The butcher takes responsibility for his autistic daughter, and attends to her stages of growth until her adulthood.
Gaspar Noe comes back in I Stand Alone to complete the story of this small family. The butcher has a relationship with a woman who is a barmaid and owner of a place. They have a plan to leave to Northern France where the woman is supposed to buy him a butchery shop after she sells out her place before leaving. Gaspar Noe blinks some signals on how people cheat their way out by activating their instinct for survival. His woman, to whom he has no real feelings, is being one of his means to compensate for his losses, such as his previous slaughterhouse which he had lost due to a crime he committed on a man he mistakenly thought had raped his daughter. Anger, with which this man is so saturated, is a channeling out of what afflicted him as a result of his relationship to this woman who humiliates him because he is unemployed, unproductive dependent on her.
As hinted in his short movie about the butcher having sexual feelings toward his daughter, Noe continues to pursue these feelings to prove that this lust has not dwindled. He goes to work as a night guard in an institution for the care of the elderly where a nurse asks him for help as one of the elderly women almost died of suffocation. The two try to help the woman but the woman dies. While trying to console the nurse, who was saddened by the death of the woman, the butcher remembers his own daughter. He then sees the nurse to her house and goes to a movie theater to watch a "porn" movie.
Noe employs the device of internal monologue to allow us to enter into the ideas of this resentful man who is in love with his daughter and who is now projecting, from his subconscious mind his parents' mistake into the mistake of his own existence.
The 'flaying' of the butcher from his first condition and his lack of interaction give rise to his nihilistic attitude as a failed product of human error afflicted by World War II. Gaspar Noe's anti-hero pays the price for the results of Nazism. His father dies; his family is torn; he does not get an education; he becomes a butcher to proceed with the natural struggle in life. In addition to this, his confidence in women declines except for his daughter who never calls him papa which would generate a sense of paternal responsibility in him. At the same time he sexually desires her in disregard for societal/civilized laws concerning the nature of this relation
in any community. This autistic girl, Cynthia the daughter of the butcher, has not identified with anyone other than her father who has fed and cleaned her until she reached her puberty.
What Are Morals?
The film begins with the words Morals and Justice. In communities where class differences are distinct, the individual resorts to attain the requirements for "survival" and in due course acquires a fierce sense of survival. On the other hand morals are relative and are determined when dealing with a particular other. The movie invites questions on whether we can live by human nature, on our instincts, deny/ approve Gaspar Noe's look at community in determining the impact of public morality as a "law" when interacting with a 'other' who denies human nature.
The film does not show directorial creativity as big as that shown in the other movies by Gaspar Noe such as Enter The Void or Irreversible because of the focus on internal monologue to reflect the psychology and effects on the main character, the anti-hero. My assessment of the film is 7 out of 10.
I Stand Alone (Seul Contre Tous) (French with English subtitles)
92 minutes; color; France.
Written (in French,)and directed by Gaspar Noe;
Director of photography, Dominique Colin;
Edited by Lucile Hadzihalilovic and Mr. Noe;
Produced by Mr. Noe and Ms. Hadzihalilovic
Actors: Philippe Nahon (the butcher),Blandine Lenoir (his daughter), Frankye Pain (his mistress) and Martine Audrain (mistress's mother).
Other Important Movies by Gaspar Noe: Carne, Enter The Void, Irresistable.
Watch The Short Movie Carne
Sara Salah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org