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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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on 30 September 2014
Great film,prefer this rather than taxi driver.
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on 19 May 2010
As a lover of French cinema, I managed to bypass this film for quite some time, before stumbling across it on Amazon. I'm so glad I did. Also, as strange as it sounds - it contains the most touching embrace between two people I have ever seen on screen and in real life. Okay - continue....

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!!!
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on 25 November 2007
I have watched this film some time ago but because it's been brought back up within my friendly pack I've managed to view it again while enclosing you to read this today. I have also seen Noe's Irreversible and thought it was quite disturbing but compare to this its sort of tame.

"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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on 16 July 2007
Gapar Noe is a great filmmaker. He is actually my new favorite Director and I look forward to seeing anything he touches upon seeing Irreversible which completely blew me away). It seems at first that his main focus is to take the things we have not yet endured in film and make us numb to it all.Noe is technically sound and writes an a decent screenplay here particularly the dialogue). Subtitles aside, if you speak English or French, the dialogue takes you deep into the mind of the film's "protagonist" (a character we briefly encounter in Irreversible as well).

Let's dissect the word protagonist for a moment. It can mean the principal figure or it can mean the leader of some kind of cause. Noe uses his protagonist for the former and destroys any positive connotation the word may have held at any point. Michael Corleone (The Godfather) and William Munney (The Unforgiven) are examples of villains directors are sympathetic toward, but there we find reason for their downward plunge, whether it be selfishness or simply the ever-relative feelings of retribution. These classic films pose some intriguing questions. Does real evil exist and assuming it does why should we care about what it thinks? or worse yet how we may actually see ourselves in their errors? Why can't we just put them in films and let their actions speak for themselves and let their consequences carry the audience toward a satisfying feeling of payback or resolution?

This story is about an old man released from jail and attempting to live his life plagued with guilt and hopelessness. He is a sad, indirectly sorry, unrealistic and profoundly disturbed character. He is misled and careless to everything around him. The kind of person we want to ignore completely and not know anything about. The kind of person whose motivations when taken into account entirely, make many of us cringe and want to warehouse him and others of his ilk in the demonic subculture of the American Correctional Facilities. But Noe takes a different approach completely. He not only engages this character but he refuses to sympathize, he just shows us what makes him tick. The film serves as a sort of diary for this character and shows us little in way of hope. He shows us a man who rationalizes every single dark thought and action he completes regardless of the fact that they are all so impulsive, primal and damaging to everything and everyone around him.

What Noe seems to understand is that the world is not always black or white, good or evil; but sometimes evil and more evil, pitch black and even darker. So here we can attempt to understand why a man would have a difficult decision to make between rape or murder, no matter how scary this proposition may sound to us. If you dare to take yourself into this character's mind then you may begin to realize that sympathy for anyone with even the potential to be like this is probably pointless, but your opinions are your own observations.

Keep in mind that Noe is not an advocate for his dark characters, he is really just a host. There are no messages in his film beyond how ugly life is in some circles. I'm not sure he means to say that life is as pointless as it seems here and in Irreversible. The film is definitely not for everyone; in fact chances are you will hate it very much but if you make similar observations that I have made after watching a movie than please go right ahead, but be careful. The film does contain some extreme violence and a brief pornographic sequence that appears on a TV screen, so be wary of these elements as well.
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on 19 May 2006
I haven't seen this film since 2003, when it was shown on Film Four shortly before the release of Gaspar Noe's second feature film, the controversial Irreversible. As a result, my opinion of it is based largely on memory, and the memory of a 19 year old at that!! So, if you'd rather read the opinion of someone more familiar with the film, then feel free, but if you'd still like to pour through my befuddled musings regardless, the plough ahead. WARNING!!! YOU HAVE 30 SECONDS TO LEAVE THIS REVIEW!!!

I Stand Alone (from the original title, Seul Contre Tous, which translates more accurately as One Against All) is Noe's take on the territory of Martin Scorsese's Taxi Driver, with the film focusing on a callous, volatile, short-tempered loner, who slips further and further into the realms of madness, obsession, violence and alienation over the course of the film's 90 minute running time. The film is very much the backbone to a loose trilogy of films anchored by the character of The Butcher, who is here played with fierce intensity by Phillipe Nahon. The Butcher was first introduced in Noe's 1991 short film Carne, which began with a shot of a horse being slaughtered and subsequently a baby being born (both shown in extremely graphic detail) before following the butcher's obsessive desire for revenge after his autistic daughter is assaulted. Nahon would return in the opening (closing?) scene of Noe's masterpiece Irreversible playing a mysterious character riffing on the notion of time and destruction, whilst simultaneously, describing a course of events that seemed to reflect directly on the actions of both Carne and this.

Here, the film picks up with the Butcher after he's been released from prison following his revenge spree at the end of Carne, with his life now revolving around menial employment, bouts of self-pity and domestic "bliss" with a woman who he hopes will be seduced into financing his own shop. When the woman falls pregnant she decides to pull out of the butcher's shop idea and demands that the butcher marry her instead. Incensed by this, the butcher beats the woman repeatedly in the stomach in order to terminate the pregnancy, before setting off on an odyssey into the depths of darkest despair that will eventually culminate in a grotty hotel room with a scene of taboo breaking redemption. Throughout the film, Noe establishes a cold and claustrophobic atmosphere that is far removed from the headache inducing visual style of the subsequent Irreversible. Here, the camera hardly ever moves... perhaps referencing the stoic, stubborn and emotionally detached personality of the central character?

The film is also less violent, with Noe building an atmosphere of quiet brooding menace... with his use of sound and music, coupled with the rigid mise-en-scene, suggesting more than actual displays of (visceral) violence ever could. Certainly, the most savage sequence is the one described above (I felt it was important to describe this sequence, rather than allude to it, as the sequence will certainly turn off a lot of potential viewers... and I personally don't see it as a spoiler either, as the afore-knowledge that this scene exists is not enough to lessen the emotional impact that that particular moment has!!), though there is also a scene mid-way through the film in which Nahon's character goes to a porno theatre (similar to the scenes in Taxi Driver in which Bickle also attends a porn film, yet derives no pleasure from it), in which we see a very brief shot of actual hard-core penetration. The climax of the film suggests something very much taboo, though the handling of it on Noe's part is surprisingly tame (even more surprising given the B-Movie style "30 second warning" that urges viewers of a sensitive disposition to leave the film before the end - and yes, I wasn't just being pretentious when I alluded to the warning at the end of the first paragraph... it's actually in the film!!).

Unless the version I saw was cut (it did have optical blurring of the hardcore porn... but Mark Kermode's introduction claimed that that was the only thing changed), then those expecting a climax similar to the scenes of intense, pornographic, violent excess found at the end (or beginning?) of Irreversible will only be disappointed, with Noe instead going for an air of tragic irony and low-key devastation. Ultimately, I Stand Alone is a powerful film full of ambition and a general air of defeated self-hatred and contempt for modern society. That said, for me the film fell short of the masterpiece tag on a number of levels... or at least, that's how I remembered it. Much of the film revolves around Nahon walking around the nocturnal streets of France narrating to himself of how much he hates the world. Nothing really happens, with the film generally feeling like it's building to something soul destroying... but then it never comes!! The film ending with a whimper, rather than a bang.

As a result, the film can be quite dull, especially to those expecting the over-the-top melodrama and flashy visuals of Irreversible. As I stated above, this was my perception of the film when I was 19. Having now seen both Carne and Irreversible, I could really do with seeing this film again - with the possibility of better appreciating what Noe was trying to say - but since the film is unavailable on region 2 DVD, I don't have much of a choice (unless some kind soul reading this decides to release it on R2 DVD, uncut with a director's commentary - in French, with subtitles - and Carne included on the bonus disk!!!). I Stand Alone is a visually distinctive, slow-burning and occasionally quite powerful film (with a cold and calculated performance from the underrated Nahon) that deserves to be seen... if only to further appreciate the leap that Noe has made from knowing-provocateur, to fully-fledged auteur.
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on 27 August 2015
One of the most disturbing, raw, and savage portrayals of the human condition ever committed to celluloid.
Shame about the aspect ratio letter box format, this looks terrible on modern tvs.
This film needs a remaster and a 23.51 anamorphic transfer to really do it justice . A brilliant but highly disturbing piece from the notorious Gasper noe, think Falling down on a steroid overdose, without the hollywood sheen.
Pitch black dark, not for the easily offended, not even an easy watch for the most hardened cinema viewer, but a brave and thought provoking film, that will stay with you for a very long time after viewing, and may even make you re-evaluate what you think is a horror film, believe me, this film is certainly that and much much more !.
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on 11 January 2004
As it seems will be his alot for his entire career, I began to watch Seul Contre Tous with the words of many ringing in my head. Disturbing, violent and the like. Having seen Irreversible a vast number of times, and it becoming my pick for film of the last twenty years, I expected the exclamations of reviewers to be no understatement.
Once again this is a film of true brilliance, not only in its stunning acting, and its technical originality, but in its courage in tackling such positively provocative subject matter. Like Irreversible it mixes 100% unique filmaking flair with a social voice so desperately needed in the world of flat, escapist pieces of durge. Its both replusive and beautiful, but always stays tense and ready to explode.
The story is simple enough, and runs on the continuous commentary, in a wonderfully gravelly voice over, from the leading protagonist. It charts his ultra pessimistic journey to his wits end. People seem to label Noe as an exaggerator of violence and emotion, but rather I feel the majority of movie goers are more accustomed to being protected by the money over message ethos of modern filmmaking. The violence is again graphically real, and serves in its genuine harshness only to show the vapidity and true horror of hollywood violence which means nothing and blunts our sensibilities. The writing is magnificient, and while the path of this man leads to a shocking conclusion of genuine distaste, his sentiments can be echoed by all those frustrated with the world who have the perception and intelligence to comprehend it.
The descending theme is derivative, but only in a genre sense, this movie is unique to itself. It will certainly stay with you and it goes without saying its not for those of light disposition.
Probably the point of most discussion in the ending. Its not as violent as many will have led you to believe, its the subject matter, which I feel isn't at all redeeming, which challenges beyond acceptance. This conclusion is somewhat dislocated from his previous descent subject matter, and ironically, the more satisfactory endng would have come with a bloodbath. This character goes on to appear right at the very beginning of Irreversible, so watch out for that.
Any way you look at it, this film is far superior to most being created and is a must see for real film fans.
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on 1 June 2014
A most excellent film, showing how life, thought processing, and actions can lead to human demoraliastion.

Should be watched and applauded as a fine piece of film making.
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on 21 September 2009
This is simply to warn others that have a 16:9 T.V that this DVD has been formatted for 4:3 televisions, as in it's still the 2:35 origional aspect ratio but 'shrunk down' for non widescreens.
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on 14 March 2000
The whole film follows the lead character constantly; we hear every thought. It is his thoughts that truly horrify you, by the time the violence comes you are numb. It is excellently shot, directed and WILL make you paranoid for months.
A great film, just very scary.
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