A butcher in Paris takes his revenge after his daughter is brutally attacked.
“Carne” (1991) is a short film by shock director Gaspar Noé. The film begins on the tempo of educating us into France’s fascination with eating horse meat of which they call “Carne”. The name is derived due to its price and color. Our story begins with a horse butcher who currently lives in the Parisian suburb of Porte de la Villette.
It’s year 1956, as we are instantly taken to the realism of a horse being slaughtered. The footage from what I could tell is authentic with the animals blood rolling out in gushes as its killed for food processing. The visuals on this, while realistic, are pretty gruesome with its head barely hanging on.
From here we join our butcher (Philippe Nahon) who’s girlfriend has just given birth to a baby girl (full birth shot shown on camera). Though he soon finds himself alone to care and raise for his autistic daughter Cynthia (Blandine Lenoir) on his own. Life seems to drag by as he watches his daughter grow thru his monotonous life of daily butcherings, frequenting the local taverns and encountering much of the same folks in his day to day. With a daughter who is coming of age, he begins to notice she is growing into a woman. There is implied incest, that is never really truly revealed though we are shown the butcher still dressing his daughter every morning into her teens.
Later in the film, when Cynthia is lured away to Aubervilliers with some kindness from a stranger (who sexually engages her), the butcher charges out with intent to kill. This proves to be a mistake as he attacks the wrong person and is instantly sent to jail.
With his life now heading into a downward spiral, he is forced to sell his shop to pay for damages. His daughter has been taken away and the reality of jail is something he decides he wants nothing to do with. Soon released, he rebuilds by shacking up with his new overweight employer, though its his daughter Cynthia who he wants back most of all. The butcher’s new love interest only proves to be fleeting of which we come to find is for the purpose of sex and rebuilding his business up again.
Director Gaspar Noé uses the subtleness (and sometimes not so subtle) of his surroundings to imply symbolism that alludes to violence, sex, and slaughter. “Carne“, coming in at about 40 minutes stays within the style and depressing tone of some of Noé’s other creations. “Carne” which only begins on a gruesome note (horse slaughter) attempts to delve into other areas that don’t need full reveals to allude to what the filmmaker is hinting at. “Carne” is lighter on the note of being squeamish, but it does hit us pretty hard on the horse footage. “Carne” always felt like it deserves an additional act to pull all its ties together. Viewers will want to take note that Gaspar Noé did in fact answer that need with a feature film that follows by the name of “I Stand Alone”. “I Stand Alone” picks up with the same characters and continues this implied trend to full reveal.