I Stand Alone AKA Seul Contre Tous 1998 Movie Scene Philippe Nahon as The Butcher pointing a gun at himself in the mirror

I Stand Alone AKA Seul Contre Tous [1998]

Disturbing and brutally honest, I Stand Alone is a masterpiece of bleakness, nihilism, and despair. And a bit of bizarre humor. Once you see it, it will be hard to go back to regular movies. It will become “that fucked up French movie”. Ahh, yes, Martyrs was indeed a harrowing expirience. No, not that one, the one with the pregnant lady. Wait, are you thinking of Inside or Titane? No, no, the one about The Butcher. Ahh, yes, the one about The Butcher. It will take you on a journey into the deepest and darkest depths of the human mind, not condemning or judging, just witnessing. And while it feels like an arthouse movie and looks like one, it transcends that concept with ease. I loved the snappy editing and those zooms. 

We will be following the story of The Butcher, a man caught in a downward spiral for most of his life. He’s fifty years old, unemployed, and living a depressing existence with his pregnant girlfriend. And things are about to get much, much worse. We hear his stream of thought in each scene as he struggles to control his urges. He rants about life, his feelings, and things he would like to do. The pacing is incredibly fast and after the rapid-fire intro, things will start escalating pretty soon. You better get ready for some truly depressing and nihilistic shit because there’s going to be a lot of it here. And it will hit harder than you think as parts of it are completely true.

There are also some really disturbing scenes here. During one of them, my hands unconsciously started moving, trying to protect certain body parts. As we reach the finale, you will start feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. So, this is one of those fucked up movies you need to be ready for. And I’m telling you, it’s fucking worth it. It’s worth every unpleasant feeling or thought as it will push you to explore and think about these things. It will help you understand how or why certain events happen. And so much more. Although it is quite unique, I would compare it with Taxi Driver. And the setting is very reminiscent of English working-class realism. The moment you see those apartments you will able to also smell them. The cigarette smoke seeping from every crevasse, cheap alcohol, and generational woe of broken dreams.

I Stand Alone pulls the veil of the social fabric and carefully constructed narratives and takes a good and deep look into the life of a relatively average guy. Now, I know that this is not the average guy but you know what I mean. His views about life, death, and just how lonely we are in this thing we call life are quite rational for the most part. The overwhelming nihilism and the sheer intensity of his emotions create this sarcastic vibe. Like it’s so nihilistic that it’s not even depressing, it’s funny. And all the while, in each interaction and each thought, you will feel a sense of honesty and authenticity. You’ve probably read or heard about an event like that. Or maybe you even witnessed it or know someone who did. I sure do. I think that the entire movie has this healing property.

And while we will be following one man, I Stand Alone is also the indictment of our society and system of values. Society and system of values that first created The Butcher and then abandoned him. We could talk about psychopathy but I would be just boring you. His views about women, guns, and immigrants are all classic boomer views. Okay, okay, maybe a bit cranked up but not too much. Just get them drunk and you’ll see. He’s a despicable character, lashing out at anyone near him. He doesn’t care about other people or their feelings and feels cheated by life and society. And he makes for one hell of a character study.

I also liked the emphasis on the class struggle and how the rich can do anything while the poor suffer. Philippe Nahon gave one hell of a performance as our titular character. I didn’t know his first role was in Melville’s noir classic Le Doulos. Gaspar Noe’s next movie, Irréversible, became a huge hit and it sort of overshadowed this masterpiece. I think this is a much better and well-crafted movie and I urge you to check it out. Finally, I just want to mention Jordan Peterson. That’s it, that’s all I’m going to say.

Director: Gaspar Noé

Writer: Gaspar Noé

Cast: Philippe Nahon, Blandine Lenoir, Frankie Pain, Guillaume Nicloux, Paule Abecassis

Fun Facts: Writer and director Gaspar Noé was mostly drunk while writing the narration. He wanted to get as close as possible to that state of mind.


IMDb Link: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0157016/

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