Baise-Moi review by The Grim Ringler

A couple of years back a French film was released called Rape Me which by title alone set the censors and movie nerds all atwitter from the very name itself, but as soon as it got out what this movie was…well, the buzzing became that of a saw, a very angry saw. Cast with two ex-porn actresses in the leads, Baise-Moi is essentially a hardcore revenge film (or rape/revenge film if you want all the genre mumbo-jumbo) that tries to pull no punches in giving you a glimpse at a descent into a hell of sex and murder. Yippee, everyone get the popcorn! Myself, I had been curious because I figured, ok, so the gimmick is hardcore sex, swell, but why is it in there, what does it mean, and is this movie so ‘controversial’ after all?

Good questions all.

Baise-Moi follows two women, Nadine and Manu, who have never met but that are both on the fast train to hell. One sells herself for money, indifferently using sex as a way to survive and to control men, and the other begs and steals her way through life, neither of the women happy but merely doing what they feel they have to to survive. When Manu is brutally raped with a friend though, something in her snaps and the last vestiges of her humanity are lost, killed by these men who had abducted the girls. And when Nadine, fed up with a nagging roommate and tired of her own life, accidentally kills her roomie, she too abandons any mask of humanity and sets off to complete a favor for a friend she had watched be murdered. When the two women meet up, Manu carjacking Nadine so she can leave the city, the two immediately form a bond that at times seems like love but that is much more. They see themselves reflected in one another and realize without saying anything that they are both doomed. Accepting, and in fact loving their fate, the women begin upon a murder spree that shakes France to its foundations as they kill random people for the sheer joy of killing them. And when their other appetites are awakened the women will seek out men to sleep with, more interested in one another during the sex than the men they are with, but needing to fulfill their urges by any means necessary. And the more notorious the women get the more they feed on it, getting off on the idea that they are now feared…are wanted…are dangerous. Purposeless beyond finishing this mission for Nadine’s dead friend, the women becoming more daring, more brutal, and far less human, taking their misdirected rages out on a populace they seem to blame for creating them. The film comes to an abrupt but not expected ending when Manu is killed while robbing a convenience store (something that seems more than just pointless as both women have more than enough money now to live, but Man unable to stop being the animal she has become), and so Nadine, having lost her partner, chooses to kill herself, as both had agreed upon when their mission was over, the final irony being that her own hesitation at suicide leads to her arrest by the police.

At its heart this is an existential film that deals with the ideas of losing one’s humanity, about our views on sex and violence, and about the obliteration of the soul. Nadine and Manu, have been so harmed by the world that they become monsters, killing with blind rage and never even coming close to punishing the people that had hurt them so badly. They are the epitome of random violence. Thinking they have found power in their murders and sex but still slaves to their pasts and their own self-images. In essence this is sort of a mean-spirited feminist film. You never get the ‘satisfaction’ you might get in a rape/revenge film because the women never get revenge on the men that hurt them. Nor do you get the ‘satisfaction’ of a porn film, the sex is to the point, is very un-sexy, and is shown more as an act and not as an event. There are a lot of interesting things that are going on in the film, and really, for two women that had seemingly not done a regular film before, both leads are very good. Pity the movie wasn’t.

For all it’s bluster and self-righteousness, this is an exploitation film of the highest order. Or is that lowest? It tries very hard to be more, but is essentially a very violent action film with lots of hardcore sex. Hell, the violence isn’t even that shocking. And in the end it feels more like they were trying to one up other films than they were trying to open doorways in film that had been left closed. If you have seen Man Bites Dog then you have seen the best parts of Baise-Moi. It is certainly an interesting concept, mixing porn and legit filmmaking, but is never more than a curiosity piece. You watch not because you are interested in the characters, but because you are interested in how far the filmmakers are willing to go to prove that dammit, they will make whatever kind of film they want to! You never connect with the women or feel their pain, and all they can really be, are written to be, are monsters. Manu and Nadine never connect with anyone outside of each other, and even that connection seems forced at times, though the sex scene where they watch each other have sex with anonymous guys shows how much they prefer each other over everyone else. There is a feeling of despair that permeates the film and that gives it its own feel, because we know the women are doomed, if just by the fact that this film is so much like the films it mocks, but that despair never becomes more than a feeling. A sense. We never care about the people getting killed because we aren’t allowed to. The film is obsessed, to the point of alienating the viewer, with these two women and never lets you get a feel for who they really are or even what they really are. They are caricatures, mocking representations of America’s favorite female duo – Thelma and Louise – and instead of creating real people that you are sad to see die and be captured, you don’t really give a damn because they aren’t real. In a film about one character being raped brutally, the irony is that the writer/director does that to the characters herself, not allowing them to be more than two crazy women out for sex and murder.

The film is shot on video, which suits it I suppose, giving it a rough, porno, indie film quality, but as much as it may suit the viewer, it also detaches us from everything. It would have been a far grander joke on the audience if she had shot it on film and had shown us these ugly people leading ugly lives but shot beautifully, forcing the viewer to come to terms with what ugliness can really be. By sexing up the movie they open a door that has been generally closed in films, and really, this aspect of the film works the best. The sex is raw, animalistic, and while at moments feeling like a porno, never do more really than show that these women will do whatever it takes to get what they want, and then just walk away. It’s sex for the sake of sex. You almost get the feeling that the film is a vast joke on us, the audience. It seems as if it’s deep, but isn’t. Seems as if it’s a porn, but isn’t. Seems as if it’s a social satire, but isn’t. It is in fact a very cynical film about cynical people. It’s a dare – we dare you to watch this! And while it’s interesting, to be sure, it is far from good. Beyond the sex and almost bloodless violence (which is interesting on its own, that the sex is hardcore but that the deaths are almost sanitized), there are two women who are turning in very interesting performances, and that manage to play their acting scenes with the same vigor they put into the sex, but after all that, there is little to recommend about this film. It’s a curiosity piece. One of those movies you see because it’s Banned In One Million Countries, which, as a horror fan, used to mean something when a film was slapped with that label dammit!

I can’t recommend Baise Moi as more than a freak show. It isn’t good enough to want to see and isn’t bad enough to need to see. The film tries to shame the viewer with loveless sex and pointless violence but never connects you to anything but the sex and violence so that it’s the filmmakers that are shamed in the end. It is what it is, and for that I guess it’s ok, but it’s sad because they had a chance to make a statement – that you can make a good, interesting, deep film, and have it have hardcore sex, not pulling any punches in its portrayal of reality, but instead is a sex romp with two angry women shooting random people. Hell, I can get that on Fox these days.


5 out of 10 Jackasses
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