Saturday, 10 October 2009

Baise Moi (2000)


I wonder how many guys saw the vaguely cute-sounding French title and the premise "two women are wronged by men and take a road trip to Paris" and thought it would make a good date movie? Not many I hope because it features copious amounts of drug use, brutal violence and hardcore sex, including a graphic rape scene. Oh, and the title actually means "Fuck Me". It's really more of a second date movie. It also got banned in Australia which made me even more interested in seeing it, if only to see whether the buzz surrounding the movie was justified. Yeah, that's right, I got a copy anyway. Try and stop me OFLC, you fuckers.

Nadine (Karin Bach) is a drug-addicted prostitute and Manu (Rafaella Anderson) is a part-time porn actor. One day the two of them are kidnapped by a group of thugs and violently gang raped. Both are severely traumatised by the incident and it drives them each to murder (one kills her brother, the other her flatmate). When the two girls meet that night at a train station and discover that they've both missed the last train, they decide to take one last road trip to Paris, indulging in a hedonistic orgy of sex and violence along the way. That's pretty much it. It's like Thelma and Louise with murders and full penetration.

Pretty much any film that prominently features women killing men is going to get a feminist label, but here it kind of fits. The two stars and the director are all porn stars so it's no accident that the two main characters are sex workers, it's about women seeking revenge on a society that degrades them and sees them as worthless. When they are raped Nadine screams and attempts to fight them off but Manu just mutely resigns herself (thereby causing her attacker to lose interest), so afterward Nadine shifts her shame onto Manu, blaming her for not fighting back. Manu responds "It could be worse. We weren't killed." Regardless of their profession or how they responded to the incident, both are profoundly damaged.

At the beginning there is an interesting scene where Manu reveals to her brother that she has been raped. He immediately grabs a gun and demands to know who did it and she responds "Bastard! You didn't even me if I'm okay!" and kills him. Most other movies would focus on the brother's act of vengeance, but here it's just seen as a purely selfish act. I also liked the scene where the two girls bemoan the fact that they can't come up with a cool line every time they shoot someone. Manu says "I mean, people are dying here. The dialog has to be up to it." Indeed. There's also a few moments of dark humour, such as when Nadie is getting boned by a client and sees someone cutting up a sausage on TV (a clip from Gaspar Noe's Suel contre tous, probably one of the few films as bleak and miserable as this) and smiles to herself.

In a film like say Ms. 45 or I Spit On Your Grave the woman will target men who have wronged women in some way. Here Nadine and Manu's rampage is purely nihilistic and it feels more raw and realistic because of it. They kill men and they kill women. They kill to get money and they kill random people on the street for fun. They don't bother to cover their tracks or conceal their identities and when they pick up a magazine and see themselves on the cover they're mainly just amused. They don't give a fuck. At one point they walk into a sex club and kill everybody inside. One poor guy gets it worst of all, they stick their gun where a gun don't fit and pull the trigger. They also indulge in a lot of casual sex with random guys, always making sure the guys never lose sight about who is in charge. Woe be to the guy who insists on a condom.

It makes me laugh when I hear people calling a film like this "pornography" because as far as I'm concerned pornography is a matter of intent and titillation is the last thing on this movie's mind. I doubt any sane person could this film erotic. It's also amusing reading the reactions from critics who are shocked, shocked I say, at the hardcore sex scenes, like they've never seen a porn film in their lives. Still, being explicit and shocking doesn't make it good. Even at a scant 77 minutes interesting scenes like the ones I mentioned earlier are few and far between. It's got good energy and pacing though so I can't say I was ever bored, even if the message gets drowned out by sex, violence and nihilism. It's a film worth watching but not with your grandmother. Unless she's really open minded.

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