The violent butcher in Gaspar Noé’s <i>Carne</i> has been released from prison for aggravated assault on the man he thought had raped his mute and semiretarded daughter. His horsemeat shop is long closed, and he is unemployed. Taking up with a shrew and her unpleasant mother, his dreams of a new butcher shop are dashed. He explodes, and an extremely violent fight with his very pregnant mistress sends him reeling into the night with a gun.
Things get worse, and we are plunged without relief into the mind of the butcher. His inner monologue is full of hate as he tries to understand what has happened to him and his France. This is the man beside you on the bus, seemingly ordinary but ready to take revenge. What is more frightening is his logic, which sometimes makes sense.
Noé has created a nightmare. Incest, gutter language, absolutely politically incorrect attitudes toward race, gender, and sexual orientation, and even footage from a pornographic film are his tools. There is a sequence of a murder/suicide perfectly designed to upset even the nonsqueamish. He is even more dangerous when he allows for a happy ending, full of what are now called in psychobabble “family values.”
No one seeing his film can doubt Noé is an artist who refuses to allow his audiences to be complacent. Art need not always be pleasant. Indeed, it must provoke if it is to be effective. It must also be noted that the film is often very funny—in an evil kind of way.
Gaspar Noé, Director
Gaspar Noé was born in 1963. He studied at the Louis Lumière film school in Paris and directed two shorts before directing and producing Carne, a forty-minute film which won the Critics’ Week Award at Cannes in 1991. He also produced Mimi (La Bouche de Jean-Pierre). I Stand Alone is his first feature-length film and also won the Critics’Week Award at Cannes in 1998.
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