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I Stand Alone (1998)

DVD Cover (Strand Releasing)
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 / 10
3 votes
Movie Connections:
> Carne (1991)
> I Stand Alone (1998)
> Irréversible (2002)
Drama, Psychological Drama
Gaspar Noé Gaspar Noé
Philippe Nahon Philippe Nahon
Blandine Lenoir Blandine Lenoir
Frankie Pain Frankie Pain
Martine Audrain Martine Audrain
Jean-François Rauger Jean-François Rauger
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Review by Tristan
Added: August 30, 2008
Those of you who read my previous review Carne, you'll know how much I enjoy and respect Gaspar Noe's work. He's not the best filmmaker in the world, but he is certainly leaps and bounds more reputable than a lot of the "filmmakers" out there today. You know the kind I'm talking about. A 200 million dollar budget, and still they manage to pump out a movie that nobody with any self respect should see. Luckily, for most of us, the internet has provided the means to seek out real films made by real directors. I Stand Alone is a perfect example of one of said films. It's intriguing, dark, morbid, and gives us a little more insight into the story of The Butcher.

Our film begins with The Butcher's (once again played flawlessly by Phillipe Nahon) monologue over a series of pictures from his childhood. We find out why he is so bitter and enraged towards the world - he was abandoned as a child in the middle of WWII. I'm sure this is enough to change any kid's outlook on life. After this heartbreaking little story, we pick up where Carne left off, with The Butcher and his pregnant mistress (Frankie Pain) traveling out of Paris to make a new life for themselves. But there's trouble in paradise people. Almost immediately the Butcher is regretting his decision and begins loathing the mistress. Her promises of buying him a new butcher shop are falling through, and he won't lower himself to a deli worker. The only reason he abandoned his mute daughter (Blandine Lenoir) in an institution was to get away from his past and start anew, and it seems he can't even do that.

One night, after a glass of wine and a porno, he's had more than enough and tells his girlfriend things won't work out by beating her stomach and turning her unborn child into "useless hamburger". He then hitches a ride back into Paris, where he looks for handouts from old friends and customers. After finding no luck in this endeavor, he pounds the pavement looking for a job as his remaining cash starts to dwindle. After being turned down at the local slaughterhouse from which he used to purchase his meats, he finally goes over the deep end - he plans to murder the owner, as well as everyone else who has done him wrong in the past.

One great thing about this film was that even though it was made 7 years after the original, it didn't feel like any time had passed since we last saw the characters. Everyone involved in Carne reprised their roles in this film seamlessly. It was nice to see in the seven year absence that nobody had drastically changed, actor and filmmaker alike. Noe still relied on the hate filled monologues to tell the story, as well as the bold title cards and slogans flashing onto the screen during intense or important sequences. The best one of course, being the final card of the film: ATTENTION - a 30 second countdown for those audience members too squeamish to witness the shocking finale. The quick, snapping camera movement accompanied by a loud bang makes even the most generic sequences seem upbeat and alive. Of course, there is nothing upbeat about this movie, so this is just one more attack on the senses that Noe is so well known for.

There are so many obvious similarities between this and Scorsese's Taxi Driver it hurts. An anti-social loner who is at war with the world is trying to redeem himself and his actions by rescuing a girl. In this this case, it's not a teenage prostitute, but his own daughter. Makes you root just a little bit harder for the "hero", if all of this is for his family. In fact, from what I understand, this movie is often referred to as a the French Taxi Driver. It always bothers me when comparisons like this are made, as they are usually referring to details so minute that they are not even worth mentioning. Every time a slasher movie is made, nobody refers to it as the 2008 version of Black Christmas or Halloween.

This film is a perfect example of a man driven mad by his own convictions and not by the world that surrounds him. Wallowing in self-hatred, he is incessantly bitter to the world and people around him. Between Nahon's fantastic acting and Noe's unique and morbid script, this pair has yet again won me over. It may be ten years old but I'm grateful for seeing it now, when I have a better appreciation and respect for film. This is not a film to be brushed under the carpet, nor is it a "fun watch". It's thought provoking, twisted and at times disgusting. Particularly the ending will stick with you, perhaps a lot longer than you'd like it to.

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