*Originally written in 2004
The short film which got Gaspar Noé on the movie map, introducing us to his horrific, but thoroughly interesting character The Butcher, played brilliantly by Philippe Nahon. Noe’s direction here has all the hallmarks of his later films, showing he was carving his own voice and style from the beginning. His sudden cutting along with harsh, loud noise, skipping flashbacks and many other techniques all are used to disconcert the viewer. And it certainly works. Also, he is not afraid of showing violence, as viewers of Irreversible will know. Here the violence is equally powerful, and in the sequel Seul Contre Tous, it is almost unbearable.
The film opens with a horse being killed. It is shot in the head, and we watch it writhe on the floor, its pool of blood flowing out. We then see a human birth in all its bloody glory, the daughter of The Butcher. He was orphaned in WWII, and has grown up hating the world, and everyone and everything in it. He serves his customers, but his interior monologue constantly reminds us of his thoughts – he wants them all dead. His daughter Blandine Lenoir, who would also reprise her role six years later, is the only thing he cares about, and we watch them grow older together. She is however mute, and the subject of bullying and toying. The Butcher’s relationship with her is almost incestuous, bathing her when she is old enough to do it herself etc, but this is explored more in the next film. When she is attacked by a man, the Butcher explodes with rage, stabbing an innocent man in the mouth. He goes to prison, taken from the only things he wants – his shop and daughter. In the short 40 minutes we see all this and more, his time in prison and release back to his world. Because of his daughter’s state, autistic as well i think, she is bland, does little except stare, and is under the full control of her father. The film continues in the exceptionally bleak Seul Contre Tous – both are come with high recommendations and warnings and both feature some truly excellent acting but both are harrowing and relentless.
Let us know in the comments if you have seen Carne or it’s fully fledged sequel.