Seul Contre Tous [VHS] 
In 1980 France, embittered butcher Jean Chevalier (Philippe Nahon) is released from prison to move in with his pregnant mistress in Lille. Jean's wife abandoned him years ago, believing (wrongly) that he seduced their autistic daughter, Cynthia (Blandine Lenoir). Jean is forced to move on when his mistress falsely accuses him of infidelity, and he moves back into the hotel room where Cynthia was conceived. His attempts to find work are all frustrated, and Jean considers taking desperate measures to end the bleakness of his existence.
Focusing on a few trauma-packed days in the life of a misanthropic French horse-meat butcher who has plans that just might be murderous, Gasper Noé's Seul Contre Tous is an incendiary exercise in the cinema of cruelty. Shocking, abrasive and, admittedly, a smidgen pretentious, it is none the less one of the boldest and most memorable films to emerge from the European art-house scene in the last 10 years. The opening series of still photographs accompanied by voice-over tell us the story which formed Noé's first 40-minute feature Carné: working-class anti-hero Jean Chevalier (played by brute-featured Phillippe Nahon) has done time for killing a man he thought had raped his autistic daughter Cynthia (Blandine Lenoir). Now back out and living with his shrewish pregnant mistress, his self-loathing and contempt for what life has dealt him boil up into a rage that leads to violence. Hitchhiking to Paris with a gun in his pocket, he unsuccessfully seeks work, watches a porn film (digitally blurred by the British censors to spare viewers' sensibilities) and then finds the daughter he left behind years before. It all leads up to a traumatic climax that Noé flags with a title-card countdown warning us we have 30 seconds to leave the cinema (read switch off the VCR or DVD player if you are planning to watch it home). What follows is indeed nauseating and disturbing, but ultimately redemptive and moving as well. As if that weren't warning enough, throughout the film the blast of a shotgun echoes from the film's future, accompanied by shock-cut jump-zooms lurching us further into the frame, one of the film's most arresting techniques.
You could easily tease out the influences at work here: the abject poetry of writers such as Céline and Beckett; the alienated lone-gunman psychology of Scorsese's Taxi Driver; the stylistic, neo-Brechtian flourishes of the French New Wave. But if Noé steals, he steals from the best, and in the process has crafted something wholly original and bracingly against the grain. --Leslie Felperin
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After reading the Amazon review on here, I decided to watch the prequel, a 40 minute film called "Carne", before watching the full length "I Stand Alone". I'd highly recommend doing this if you can get hold of it, (I had to download it) as it sets up this film perfectly, and you get a steady introduction to all of the characters and events that have gone before. This would still be highly enjoyable "Carne" or no "Carne" but if you want the best viewing experience possible, that would be the way to do it.
It must be said that this film is not for everyone and is certainly not a feel good movie. The scenes are depressing and are often interspersed with philosophical soliloquies on the pointlessness of life, that leave you feeling overwhelmingly helpless for the duration of the film. As negative as that sounds, this only helps you to get on the same wavelength as the now homeless, unemployed butcher, Jean Chevalier.
The film is littered with tactical staccato violin stabs and shotgun blasts, that punch through the silence, and refuse to let you rest. It becomes clear that Jean Chevalier is not self destructing on his own - you will be right beside him for the ride. As the film races to a nauseating climax, we are warned that we have 30 seconds in which we can decide to carry on watching, or walk away unharmed, which only adds to the tension that has been steadily building throughout the film. I must admit, I felt a childlike sense of excitement when the countdown was over, like Christmas had arrived, and prepared myself for what was to come.
Please watch this film. It's wonderful!!!
"I Stand Alone" was the debut feature film from French filmmaker Gaspar Noé. Noé rose to cult status in 2002 with his controversial film Irréversible which, in some circles, caused quite a stir. But "I Stand Alone" is a different film entirely. It is set in France circa 1980, and tells the story of The Butcher (Philippe Nahon). Forced into retirement due to bankruptcy, he finds himself locked into a marriage with his nagging pregnant wife (Frankie Pain) and a hateful mother-in-law (Martine Audrain). Having moved from Paris hoping for a new life, he finds himself at the very bottom of the barrel living in a cramped apartment and taunted by the women every moment of the day. Then one day when confronted by his wife for cheating he snaps. This man is ANGRY! and we are made aware of it in part by occasional acts of violence, but mostly by a continual stream-of-consciousness narration in which all his bile is directed in scatter-gun fashion at the world in general. It is difficult to tell how much this character is emblematic of Noe's own beliefs; one hopes he isn't.
Realizing what he's done the Butcher abandons them and returns to Paris. Poised on the edge, seething with bitterness and hatred for a world he must endure, he continues on looking for money, work and a place to stay. No one will help, not even his friends. After a barroom confrontation that leaves him filled with rage and filled with a resentment of his own life, he resorts to the one thing that makes him happy, this leads to what is quite possibly one of the most disturbing endings.
I usually don't like to compare films; I like to think that each piece can stand on its own and has its own merits. But there are many films today that borrow or pay homage to classics. "I Stand Alone" is one of those films that clearly borrow from films such as Taxi Driver. You can see the trademarks in the Butcher from the Travis Bickle character in Taxi Driver (Two-Disc Collector's Edition), the loner who's ready to explode from living in an unforgiving world that simmers with bitterness and hate. There is an unavoidable depth of decay and deprivation portrayed in the character that remains stagnant throughout the film. Unlike Taxi Driver the Butcher's depression doesn't transcend to nihilism, it builds and builds as the narration reaches an unconscionable crescendo. The Butcher reaches a point where all is lost except one ray of light, the proverbial silver lining, which is .......Sorry that's all I can say but recommended to you if your curios.
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