This fearless film may or may not be a masterpiece, but there is little about this film that feels false or inauthentic. Many have already compared this film to TAXI DRIVER; but TAXI DRIVER is more of a film about a man that is dragged to insanity by psychotic fantasies he can no longer resist. TAXI DRIVER does, however, share with SEUL CONTRE TEUS a sense of psycho-sexual determinism. The protagonists in both films are at least partly driven by sexual compulsions they either can not control, feel they can not control or badly desire to explore. Both films have memorable scenes that take place inside a porno theater, emphasizing the dominance sex and sexual compulsions have over each of the protagonists (though for different reasons in each of them).
SEUL CONTRE TEUS, however, is less of a film about an inexorable pull toward insanity and instead is more of a film about an inescapable rage -- the rage associated with a fiercely guarded sense of pride that has a strong tendency of violence toward anything that appears the least bit insulting; and a rage that comes from endless feelings of loneliness. The protagonist (known only as "The Butcher," which is his past profession) is consequently very vulnerable to feelings of humiliation and has little ability to make sound decisions in life. SEUL CONTRE TEUS is about the rage of those in the working classes that suffer the pain of a hard childhood, are punished for their crimes that mainly arise out of anger, and endure the humiliation of unemployment and unwantedness -- yet refuse to let the harshness of life knock them down for good. The Butcher refuses to lie down. He wants to fight back at whatever blocks his path. But, like an animal, he chooses his targets arbitrarily and impulsively. Those that he is most threatened by in reality offer little danger; and perhaps could instead offer friendship or even assistance.
The film features an astounding interior monologue that runs like an intensely embittered sermon (told through a voice over) throughout the duration of the film. Many of The Butcher's thoughts are intensely provocative and refreshingly, fearlessly insightful and profound. My favorite is probably the line that says (something like) "there is no revolution anymore; when we are all alone there is only revenge." Valuable lines like this are mixed in with incendiary rants against foreigners and homosexuals -- thoughts and emotions rooted in painfully stubborn pride and bitter humiliation, but which sometimes have the feel of some desperate, lost, apocryphal truth to them.
There are a couple of other qualities this film shares with TAXI DRIVER. For the most part, even though they are quite frightening, the protagonists in both films are sympathetic (though again for different reasons) and even charismatic. Also, both films have extremely violent climaxes that, thematically and psychologically, resemble the male orgasm gone psychotic. The conflation of sex and violence in both films is unmistakably real and psychologically (and perhaps politically) profound. Also, both films feature a twisted sense of redemption at the end (though I will say no more than that for fear of spoiling the endings of both films) -- twisted in the sense that there is a future and not all hope is lost; but it is a hope that is rooted in something unclean and false. I think most people will find the scene of reconciliation and redemption toward the end of SEUL CONTRE TEUS to be remarkably moving (at least until it turns into something perverse).
This film is not for everyone -- that's for sure. If TAXI DRIVER was more than you bargained for, then stay away from this film because this film is even more intense and brutal. But for those of you who desire, or even need, to see a film about the rage of a man who is disenfranchised and dispossessed and is driven toward fantasies and expressions of violence and perversity -- then here it is. This is for you.
I Stand Alone
Crime / Drama / Thriller
I Stand Alone
Crime / Drama / Thriller
The Butcher (known from Noe's short film Carne) has done some time in jail after beating up the guy who tried to seduce his teenage mentally-handicapped daughter. Now he wants to start a new life. He leaves his daughter in an institution and moves to Lille suburbs with his mistress. She promised him a new butcher shop. She lied. The butcher decides to go back to Paris and find his daughter.
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April 20, 2019 at 03:09 AM