I Stand Alone (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Seul contre tous (English title: I Stand Alone or In The Bowels Of France - I Stand Alone) is a 1998 French film, written and directed by Gaspar Noé, and starring Philippe Nahon, Blandine Lenoir, Frankye Pain, and Martine Audrain.


Plot summary

The film focuses on several pivotal days in the life of a bitter former butcher as he rages against the world.

The history of the Butcher is narrated through voice-over and a montage of still photographs. Orphaned at a young age, he opened a butcher shop and fathered a mentally-deficient daughter from a woman who later left him for another man. He raised his daughter, fighting his lust for her, until the day of her first period, when he stabbed a man he thought had raped her. He went to jail, losing his job and his daughter, who became near-catatonic. After being released, he took up with a woman who owned a tavern and she became pregnant. She sold her business and moved to northern France with him under the promise of opening a butcher shop. It is 1980.

The Butcher hates his life with his overbearing, overweight mistress. She backs out of her promise to open a butcher shop, forcing him to take a night watchman job at a nursing home. Along with a nurse, he witnesses an elderly patient die, and he ruminates on the pointlessness of life. He fails to capitalize on the nurse's vulnerability, but his mistress accuses him of having an affair nonetheless. He snaps and punches his mistress in the belly several times, very likely killing their unborn child, then steals a pistol and flees.

The Butcher determines to feel no guilt and return to Paris. He rents the same flophouse room where he conceived his daughter and begins looking up his old friends, but they are all too decrepit and poor to help him. The Butcher's interior monologues focus on his hatred of the rich and their exploitation of the lower class. He looks for butcher jobs, but the French economy is in recession and there are no jobs in any related field. After being turned away at a slaughterhouse that once did business with his shop, the Butcher decides to kill the manager. He plots the murder at a local tavern, but is ejected from the bar at gunpoint after squabbling with the owner's son. The Butcher finds that he has only three bullets in his gun, and plans which of his new enemies he will use them on.

He eventually decides to see his daughter first. After meeting her at her asylum, he takes her back to his room and hesitates, looking at his gun. He has sex with her and then attempts to kill her with a shot to the head, but misses and hits her throat. As she bleeds in agony and the landlord pounds on the door, the Butcher uses his second bullet to finish her off. His mind in chaos, the Butcher collapses and shoots himself in the head. The movie returns to the moment of the Butcher's hesitation. He puts the gun away, resolving to be good, and tearfully embraces his daughter. Then there is a close up of him spreading his daughter's legs in the same way he spread her mother's legs. Standing at a window, he unzips his daughter's jacket and begins fondling her. His interior monologue asserts that their love is more pure because the world condemns it.


The camera is usually stationary throughout the film, however this trend is sometimes contrasted by abrupt, rapid movements of the camera. The sudden movements are always accompanied by a loud sound effect, usually an explosive gunshot. A notable exception is the final crane shot, which moves gently away from the Butcher's window and turns to look down an empty street.

The film frequently cuts to title cards that display a variety of messages throughout the movie. The cards often repeat a notable word spoken by the Butcher, such as "Morality" and "Justice". At the film's climax, a "Warning" title card counts down 30 seconds under the pretext of giving viewers an opportunity to stop watching and avoid the remainder of the film.

Film connections

The film is a sequel to Noé's short film Carné. The Butcher also makes a cameo appearance at the beginning of Irréversible, Noe's follow-up to I Stand Alone. In a drunken monologue, the Butcher reveals that he was arrested for having sex with his daughter.


  • Critics Week Award at the Cannes Film Festival, 1998.
  • Official Selection of Telluride, Toronto, New York, Rotterdam, San Francisco Sundance Film Festivals.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "I Stand Alone (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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