The debut feature from Gaspar Noe, I Stand Alone, is set in 1980 and tells the story of The Butcher (Philippe Nahon) a retired horsemeat peddler, locked into a loveless marriage with his nagging, pregnant wife and a hateful mother-in-law.
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Almost a manifesto of what was to come with Noe, this is raw meat indeed. One admires the strident confidence of the piece but question the point of expressing nihilistic concerns in such brutal terms. I suspect the answer is because you can, but that hardly furthers debate let alone enlightenment. It sorely lacks the polemical drive of, say a Pasolini. Nebulous offal: stylishly arranged, little more.
An intense overdose of misanthropy, cynicism, anger, hate, nihilism, violence and incest courtesy of Noé. It showed an unapologetic start for his career and laid out the foundations for most of the themes he would later explore in his films. Cool stuff.
Noe Gaspar's cinema, in later years, would be known to investigate hate and violence. Only recently he would reveal those investigations were really the unrest of someone whose main drive is Love. In "I Stand Alone" it is the roots, the very nature of misanthropy that he looks into. The lead character keeps finding reasons to hate everyone. And he wants to be stronger that way, but everyone is one person too many.
I am reminded of Carl Jung's words as he described Joyce's Ulysses :"The book is an exposed nerve... it is an eye, a nose or an ear..." and I can't think of a better way to describe this film. Because it is indeed an exposed nerve, it is a bulging organ prone to be infected, swollen and filled with pus waiting to explode on the viewer's face. Do not confuse its sensibilities for a certain kind of bluntness.
Noe's best in a walk. His camera's gotten more adventurous since, but his grasp of character and social milieux has dropped off considerably, making the nihilism The Butcher embodies so convincingly/indelibly/repellently here seem increasingly like an adolescent posture.
Gaspar Noé is one hell of a filmmaker. This film is aggressive, cruel, and angry. Just the way I like it! It's also beautifully shot and stylistically inventive like all of his movies. I loved it. I found it to be an incredibly disturbing portrait of a fucked up soul. Gaspar Noé doesn't hold back at all which I love. Just fantastic. Not really enjoyable, but fantastic (like Irreversible).
Reminded me of Michel Houellebecq's novels - and that's a huge compliment! Could have been a masterpiece, but the voice over almost made it a radio play sometimes. Strange for such a visual director to bee so explicitly verbal, but the four stars are deserved, since the monologue is so damn good.