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"When I recently viewed Gaspar Noe's film "Irreversible," I noticed with interest a scene at the beginning of the movie where an elderly man waxes philosophic about the various problems in his life to another poor soul while both men sit in a filthy, cramped room. I chuckled inwardly about Noe's in joke since anyone who has seen "I Stand Alone" recognizes the elderly gent with a bad attitude as none other than the suicidal butcher, the main character in this gripping film about the psychological free fall of a man with nothing left to lose in life. If I had to compare "Irreversible" with "I Stand Alone," I would definitely pick "Irreversible" as the better of the two in nearly every aspect of filmmaking, but "I Stand Alone" is a memorable experience nonetheless. If you thought watching Monica Bellucci suffer indignity after indignity was bad, you should watch the last twenty minutes of "I Stand Alone" for a whole knew outlook on what constitutes "disturbing." Gaspar Noe is quickly turning into my favorite "foreign" film director. I can't wait to see what he comes up with next.The plot of "I Stand Alone" is frighteningly simple. The main character is an unemployed butcher, middle aged, whose life is one long series of disappointments. We learn he is the son of a French communist executed by the Nazis who eventually married, had a child, and lost his business after he killed a man he mistakenly assumed had brutalized his daughter. The incident sent his young child over the edge mentally, requiring her to check in for a lengthy stay at the local mental motel. The butcher, now on the ropes emotionally and recently released from prison, leaves his child behind to take up with an obnoxious woman and her overbearing mother because of a vague promise made by said woman to set our hero up in the meat business again. Sadly, this woman becomes pregnant and begins to berate the butcher about his taciturn nature, using the excuse of being with child to get what she wants from the relationship. The constant pressures of unemployment and the nagging from his woman causes the butcher to snap; he beats the pregnant woman viciously, and then flees when he worries that he has killed his unborn child and could again end up in prison for his actions. Heading back to Paris and points north, the butcher wanders through the blasted landscapes of a France never seen in travel brochures. As he roams around with a diminishing supply of money and no job prospects, meeting old friends that refuse to help him and sleeping in pay by the day rat holes, the butcher engages the audience through a largely internal monologue that wallows in misogyny, racism, nihilism, and general misanthropy. This guy hates everyone and everything; he feels that the whole world is out to dump on him and seeks to pay back all of his enemies in the most vicious of ways. When he procures a gun with a few bullets in it, he begins formulating elaborate plans for bloody revenge. He'll kill the smug jerk that refused to give him a job, the man at the bar who gave him some grief over the tab, and anyone else that gets in his way. The butcher finally decides to pay a visit to his daughter since he hasn't seen her in ages, and it is during this visit that "I Stand Alone" enters its final, most horrific stage. Nothing will prepare you for the terrible final moments of Noe's movie. It's deeply disturbing, sick, morally reprehensible, and just plain nasty. Come to think of it, the whole movie is an exercise in depravity virtually certain to give most mainstream viewers conniption fits.The best elements of "I Stand Alone" have little to do with the lengthy dialogue of the mad butcher or his rambling journeys through Paris. After awhile you get used to the run down buildings, the litter clogged streets, and the redundant blatherings of the butcher. You probably won't feel too much pity for the guy after awhile anyway, seeing as how he's such a sick, hateful soul full of loathing for his fellow man (and women, especially women). What does strike a chord is how Noe portrays this unpleasant chap. Noe rubs your nose in this guy's misery to such an extent that you shudder to think there are people like the butcher around us every day, adrift in their frustrated lives and ready to explode at any minute. In an effort to bring home the gut wrenching stresses in the butcher's existence, the director employs an unusual but very effective extreme focus camera technique--accompanied by a dramatic thudding sound--at certain important points throughout the film. There's even a flashing sign towards the end warning the viewer the movie is about to take an extreme turn just in case you wish to switch the whole thing off. Brilliant!A few caveats are necessary with "I Stand Alone." The conclusion of the film, with its graphic violence and whirlwind dialogue, will upset viewers unaccustomed to such things. Moreover, at one point in the movie the butcher sits in an adult movie theater to be alone with his frustration. That's not too bad in and of itself since we already know the thought processes of the butcher, but we get an eyeful of the definitely XXX rated movie playing on the screen. If pornography really bothers you, take a pass on "I Stand Alone." I, however, thought Noe's a film a brilliant piece of cinema exploring the dark recesses of a man on the verge of a suicidal breakdown. If that sounds appealing to you, certainly give this one a glance. Then watch "Irreversible.""
This film is on very dangerous ground.
D. Mok | Los Angeles, CA | 08/24/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"In a way, the fact that I was very offended by this film is a testament to its power. On the other, this is the first time I've found it hard to let the filmmaker off the hook on moral grounds.The extreme, extreme violence of this film is truly nauseating. And I say this as one who's studied cinematic violence of all sorts -- from Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer to The Re-Animator, from The Killer to Salo: The 120 Days of Sodom, from Robocop to Maniac. But I dare say none of them evoked the incredibly negative response that I Stand Alone did. The body count is low, but the acts of violence are so extended, and so repulsive in their immorality, that they hit you like sledgehammer blows. This is the kind of film that would immediately get banned as a video nasty in the UK, and possibly get its director mobbed.Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer is the closest comparison I can draw. Man Bites Dog isn't nearly as bleak; Taxi Driver isn't as brutal or cold-blooded; and Maniac doesn't have one per cent of the brains. What I feel is a feature-length ode to hatred, to blind, inarticulate hatred for all things alive and dead, and ultimately to self. At the same time that I marvel at its ability to strike body blows and portray a reality (psychological and physical) this frightening, I can't say I really like this film. At times, the film lingers so long on the suffering of its characters and assimilates the viewpoint of its reprehensible protagonist so thoroughly that it becomes hard whether it's the character that's violent and detestable, or the film that so closely resembles him.If you like challenging cinema, it's definitely worth a look. But if you've ever cried or become sick because of a movie, think twice before you delve into this one."
Mark Solotroff | Chicago, IL USA | 06/21/2001
(3 out of 5 stars)
"By rating this DVD a three out of five, I do not mean to indicate that my opinion of the film is negative in any way. "I Stand Alone" is a tremendously bleak, yet excellent portrait of Gaspar Noe's "butcher" character, a man filled with believable (because it is fairly mundane) inner torment that drives him to increasing levels of rage, violence, and socially unacceptable behavior. The film can draw parallels to "troubled lead character" movies such as "Taxi Driver," "In a Glass Cage," and "A Clockwork Orange," but "I Stand Alone" revels in realistic situations that feel as if they would be easy to fall into. Far better than "Man Bites Dog," and so far beyond anything involving Quentin Tarantino, this film is grim, but somehow not humorless, as Noe "lightens" the tone with jarring edits, sound blasts, and a very funny warning when things are about to reach a climax. The loss of one (or maybe even two) star(s) is due to the decision to leave Noe's 1991 short film "Carne" (the precursor to this film) off of the DVD. Overall, Strand Releasing did a poor job with this package, offering no "extras" whatsoever. Fans of writer Michel Houellebecq should look into this film as it portrays a more "working class" rendition of that author's inhuman viewpoint."
Nothing like this has ever been done
Mater Dolorosa | Paris France | 05/29/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"You either have the guts to watch Noé's films or you don't. People who don't usually leave the cinema after 10 minutes and feel attacked for no reason. People who do are usually stunned. Nothing like this has ever been done.All of Noé's films contain no more than 2 violent scenes but the rest of it is extremely oppressing (he and his wife use to argue about not falling into Truffaut clichés) - and if the point is to shock the public, I've never seen it done in such an inteligent and pointful way. It has been said that his films are immoral and push people to immoral thoughts - I don't think so. The situations are often extreme but their dark side is close to that of Peckinpah's films: it is never gratuitous.Carne and I stand alone have both won the first prize at Cannes Semaine de la critique festival. And, by the way, there exists another dvd edition of I stand alone which contains Carne, various trailers, comments, critics and several transcriptions of the butcher's thoughts.If you have liked this, don't miss Noé's new film called Irreversible, presented this year (2002) at Cannes."
SEUL CONTRE TOUS aka ALONE AGAINST ALL.
galleries | LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA United States | 08/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"the DVD is indeed very poor, no trailers, no short films from the director are available. on the other hand, the transfer is exellent!... "SEUL CONTRE TOUS",(i stand alone) was directed by GASPAR NOÉ... the story takes place in france in 1980. it is the story of a jobless butcher struggling to survive in the bowels of his nation. the butcher (played by french actor philippe nahon) only wants one thing:"to escape the dark tunnel of his existence". unfortunatly for him; his life is gonna hit the bottom,plagued by misfortune,betrayal,sadness..etc.. 70% of the film takes place inside his mind,the voice over is sometimes even more frightening than anything else. needless to say,do not watch this movie if you have suicide tendencies. the cinematography is really exellent.(the film was shot with a super 16mm anamorphic camera), the acting is impressive, it sometimes feels as if you're watching a documentary. the film contains pornography,disturbing violence... the ending is also extreme.., I wont spoil the rest, but "I STAND ALONE" is a must!...a masterpiece. ps:the short film entitled:"CARNE" (also directed by gaspar in 1991) is the first part of "i stand alone" it is 45mins long and is equally good!.."carne also marked gaspar noe's debut in the cinema industry. -philippe nahon can also be seen in "le pacte des loups" aka BROTHERHOOD OF THE WOLVES..."la haine" aka THE HATE...and "les rivieres pourpres" aka THE CRIMSON RIVERS.memorable lines from the butcher: -"your mother. you love her as long as she gives you milk. & your father when he lends you money. but when her breats are all dried up. or when your father's pockets are empty. the best thing to do is lock them up. and let them die before they cost you too much. that's how it goes. the law of life.children pretend to be nice only when there's an inheritance."..."