Carne (1991)

VHS Cover (Japan)
Genres: Drama, Psychological Drama
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Gaspar Noé Gaspar Noé
Lucile Hadzihalilovic Lucile Hadzihalilovic
Blandine Lenoir Blandine Lenoir
Philippe Nahon Philippe Nahon
Frankie Pain Frankie Pain
Hélène Testud Hélène Testud
Movie Connections:
> Carne (1991)
> I Stand Alone (1998)
> Irréversible (2002)

7.3 / 10 - Overall Rating

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Review by Tristan
Added: August 30, 2008
For the most part, I'm a hard man to disturb. While most people live their lives in blissful ignorance, I actively seek out the most repulsive and twisted movies, videos and images I can find. Things like this go beyond a love for horror and delve into a deeper pleasure. Call me sick, but it's my prerogative. Now when I watched Gaspar Noe's notorious Irreversible a few months back, I found myself cringing and uncomfortable. For those of you who have seen this film, you will know exactly what I mean when I say that it's not something that warrants repeated viewings. However, thanks to the internet, I was able to check out more of Noe's work without having to watch the aforementioned movie.

Our short film for the evening focuses on a horse meat butcher (Philippe Nahon) who has single-handedly raised his mute daughter (Blandine Lenoir) from infancy. Day in and day out, he works the same shift, sees the same people, and performs the same mundane tasks. There is a strange sexual tension between father and daughter, as we see the butcher bathing and dressing his daughter from a baby up into her early teens. Because of her disability and strange upbringing, she is a social outcast and her only source of pleasure is a rocking horse down on the street. As time passes the daughter naturally grows older, and through a series of chilling inner monologues, we hear the butcher speak of her changing on him, and growing into a woman. As with all young girls going into womanhood, her first period takes her quite by surprise. When her father sees this stain after she has been harassed by one of the locals, he takes it upon himself to punish this man for what he thinks was his daughter's rape. Unfortunately, the first man he sees in the area is a worker enjoying a cigarette break. The butcher viciously kills the man, and is subsequently taken away from his daughter who is left to fend for herself. The film ends with his release from prison, where he starts a new life for himself to raise enough money to get his daughter back.

The summary may seem as though it ends abruptly, but the film ends in this same manner - with the end credits rolling while you were awaiting some sort of explanation. I can only assume Gaspar knew he would return to this story seven years later to wrap it up for everyone. Some of you may be familiar with Noe's 1998 film I Stand Alone, which picks up right where this film left off. It's not a necessity that you watch this film first - or at all - but it's certainly nice to know what happened before The Butcher went to prison. I Stand Alone tells the story through flashbacks and inner monologues, whereas Carne gives you the whole story, complete with Noe's unique camera style and the lovable character: The Butcher.

One of the things I noticed about this one what was much different from Noe's other films was the lack of any disturbing images or graphic violence. Aside from the opening sequence which is footage of a horse being slaughtered and skinned, there is nothing unsettling going on in this movie in the standard sense. It is very difficult to watch Phillipe Nahon bathe and dress his teenage daughter, and not feel a little uncomfortable. Even though this seems like a vile act, Nahon somehow makes it seem routine and completely innocent. Even though he is filled with rage and anger towards the world, he is somehow able to make the character both sympathetic and apathetic. My first thought upon seeing him was "Oh hey, it's the killer from High Tension", but soon after I realized what a remarkable and precise actor he was. He was able to bring the role of the butcher - a monotonous and simple character - to life and have the audience hanging on his every action.

Now the original reason I had for seeing this movie was that I enjoyed the style and visual elements of Irreversible. Carne was Noe's first feature film, and was responsible for getting him on the map in the world of film. I was not expecting as much from this film as I would his later work, but in its own way it was far superior to them. All of the scenes were broken up with pounding drums and title cards which consisted of dates and times, more of the butcher's thoughts, or information for the viewer. I found the latter to be particularly strange, but somewhat intriguing. It's a little difficult to get your hands on this one, but if you get the chance, I strongly recommend you check it out. It's a pretty decent art house flick with a very strong message: Your life can change in a second as a consequence of your actions.

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