I STAND ALONE

5 Stars
Year Released: 2001
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Running Time: 93 minutes
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So why shouldn’t I blow my brains out? ^ The butcher (Philippe Nahon) asks himself this at one point in the French film “I Stand Alone.” The answer is a tough one coming, and by the time things get to that point, you’ll wish you were someplace else. You’ll pray for the movie to be over because you know it’s going somewhere nasty, and you think you have a good idea of where. Then the warning will appear. Thirty seconds to leave the screening. You’ll thank the director, Gaspar Noe, for that, but you won’t heed it. Later, you’ll wish you did. God, you’ll wish you did.
So why shouldn’t I blow my brains out? ^ The butcher lived a hard life. Mother abandoned him. Father is a communist killed by Nazis. Molested by an educator. Becomes a butcher at 14 and opens a shop ten years later. Meets a lady and gets her pregnant. She splits, so he raises his mute daughter alone–all while fighting sexual urges for her. Due to a miscommunication, he thinks his girl is raped so he stabs a man in the head for it. Ends up in jail while his daughter is taken away and institutionalized. Loses his flat and his business to the world of bankruptcy. After he’s released, he meets another woman whom he gets pregnant. She sells her business, and they move to another part of France to start anew. Then the movie begins.
So why shouldn’t I blow my brains out? ^ When the French do a movie right, they do it right. “Baise Moi” was a good exercise in the shocking. “Romance” did the detached female bit extremely well. “I Stand Alone” ruins dramas forever. Shotgun cinematography that sucks you in and a main character reminiscent of the sheriff in Jim Thompson’s “The Killer Inside Me” do their best to put you through a hell never before realized on the corrupt silver screen, and it succeeds like no other film before it has.
So why shouldn’t I blow my brains out? ^ Watching this, I was mesmerized. The tension just never let up. Every cut brought me one step closer to a conclusion I knew was coming, but could never guess in a million years. Then came the warning.
So why shouldn’t I blow my brains out? ^ A title card and counter warns viewers that they have 30 seconds to leave the screening. This is a gimmick horror movies used to employ to trick people into thinking they were going to witness something terrifying. It was always a disappointment. Not this time.
So why shouldn’t I blow my brains out? ^ Requiem for a Dream has a conclusion as gripping as they come. “I Stand Alone” makes Requiem for a Dream look like a Disney film. I’m a thirty-one-year-old male. I went from feeling very uncomfortable to wiping away tears … then it got worse.
So why shouldn’t I blow my brains out? ^ This is the only film I’ve ever viewed that is perfect as it stands. You will curse that later.
So why shouldn’t I blow my brains out? ^ I don’t know the answer to that. But after watching this, I wouldn’t be surprised if viewers felt like doing that very thing. Worse yet, I’ve learned that a follow-up film is coming. God help us all.



Posted on December 27, 2002 in Reviews by
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