August 01, 2011
Alone against all
Seul Contre Tous (Gaspar Noé, 1998)
The history of the butcher is narrated through voice-over and a montage of still photographs. Orphaned at a young age and subsequently abused by a priest, he opens a butcher shop and fathers an autistic daughter with a woman who leaves him because it is not a boy. He raises his daughter while fighting his incestuous feelings for her. On the day of her first menstrual period, he sees blood on her skirt and stabs an innocent man who he thinks raped her. He is sentenced to prison and forced to sell his butcher shop to a Muslim, and his daughter is put in an institution. He has sex with his prison cellmate, but after being released, he vows to forget it happened. He gets a job working for the fat woman who owns the tavern he used to drink in. She seduces him, and she becomes pregnant. She sells her business and moves to northern France with him, promising to purchase a butcher shop. It is now 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 returns 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 begins assigning them to each of his various enemies.
He eventually decides to see his daughter. After meeting her at the asylum in which she is a patient, he takes her back to his room and hesitates, looking at his gun. He contemplates having sex with and then killing his daughter. 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. He then again contemplates having sex with her in the same manner as he did with her mother. 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.
Posted by Stiles