Baise-moi [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray A - America - Kino Lorber
Review written by and copyright: Robert Segedy (5th August 2021).
The Film

"Baise-moi" (2000)

Hold it now, a word of warning before we proceed: ďThis film contains prolonged sex scenes of an Extremely Explicit Nature and Scenes of Graphic Violence, which some viewers may find shocking and disturbing.Ē There, right up front on the box cover, is this warning. Make of that what you wish. Baise-moi caused quite a bit of a ruckus when it was released back in 2000 in France, and it was forced to be re-rated by the French government to the dreaded X rating. This led the film to be pulled from many cinemas because there really wasnít any X rated theaters anymore. And to think that the French are usually considered to be a tad more liberal when it comes to explicit sex on the screen.

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name by Virginie Despentes and co-directed with Coralie Trinh Thi, a former porn actress, comes this corrosive piece of French cinema. There isnít much to really comment on here, except that this film is not to be dismissed as merely another womanís lib propaganda film, hardly disguising itself as a vicious commentary on society, sexuality, and more importantly a personís rights as a human being. No, this is possibly akin to graduating from softer drugs to mainlining heroin. Without mincing words, Baise-moi, is a harsh slap in the face to the filmgoing public. Throughout the film, from its wretched opening gang rape scene with actual penetration to its orgy of gunfire at a swingerís club, this film casts aside all pretensions and grinds your face in the dirty reality of its two doomed main characters. This film is strictly for adults only and with that being said, only brave ones.

The film doesnít easily establish its street cred; the opening scene is a violent and depressing rape scene. Two women, who are in the wrong place at the wrong time are beaten, sexually assaulted, and then discarded like a used hanky. The focus of the film is on a tall, slightly out of it hooker Manu (RaffaŽlla Anderson) as one of the assaulted women. She is completely focused on not giving her assailant the slightest satisfaction, unlike her friend, who whimpers and screams throughout. Manuís reaction is slightly shocking, as if men cannot control their brutal instincts and so she is not surprised. This incident only serves to fuel Manuís inner fire, and she will unleash her own fury on anyone that crosses her path later in the film. Returning home, Manu is confronted by her brother, who starts acting all uppity, and he begins waving a pistol around. The two struggle and the gun goes off, killing him. Manu is clearly more upset by her brotherís egocentric affront than his actual concern for her wellbeing. This is the beginning of a bonfire that will burn stronger as Manu joins forces with Nadine (Karen Bach), a part time prostitute who strangles her roommate after she nags too much. The two cross paths completely by accident and together they form an unstoppable combination. Forget Thelma and Louise (1991, Ridley Scott), this is a non-Hollywood parable, and these ladies are thoroughly pissed off and are looking for a wild time. Again, I must warn the reader that this film contains sexually explicit scenes and ultra-violent scenes of depravity.

Basically, this is a take no prisoners type of film. Itís much more than a I like/dislike this film; the filmmakers have an axe to grind, and they are making sure that the audience either walks out in disgust or that you sit there, stunned as one atrocity after another, assaults your senses. Now the question arises of whether or not that the filmmakers could have accomplished their goals without resorting to showing the actual sexual acts on the screen? It is hard for me to answer that question because the filmmakers are female, and this is obviously an issue for them that they wanted to address. The sexuality on display is similar to the emotionless coupling that is found in many of todayís X-rated films with the participants each going through the motions, but certainly not emotionally effected. The sex for the two main characters is a matter of choice. They bed down men that they meet, both alone and together, but it is always strictly within their terms. After the two off them have group sex with two men that they have met, one man is foolish enough to comment that he would enjoy seeing the woman having sex with each other; immediately the gun is burnished, and the two men beat a hasty retreat before they both get shot. There is no doubt that both women are completely in charge and that they are the ones making all the decisions. My only objection to the film is that one begins to become numb to the constant violence and the non-feeling sexuality within a very short time. The camera records everything with its non-judgmental gaze: the handheld camera work, the pre-existing lighting, the graininess of the video production, it is all part of the overall experience of being on the run with two outlaws as they flee from the law.

Ultimately it is up to the viewer of this film to decide whether the filmmakers were overdoing things a bit with the explicit content or are the directorís trying to make a much broader and harder to articulate statement about equality, both in and outside cinema. Guns certainly are used with hardly any precaution and perhaps that is something that the directors were aiming for as well. In this case, sexuality and choice are akin to loaded pistols, who gets laid and who gets blown away is completely up to the lead characters. The film freight trains its way to an interesting conclusion and with only one sole survivor left to supply testimony, we the viewer, are left to ponder many unanswered questions.

Video

Shot on video, features grainy footage and plenty of underlit cinematography.

Audio

The audio is pedestrian but suitable. Subtitles are a must. The grinding French pop in the background reminds you that this is a guerilla shoot type of film.

Extras

New Audio Commentary by Film Historian Kat Ellinger, the length of the film. Ellinger relates her own personal assault history throughout. This is a thought producing commentary and is highly recommended.

The Making of Baise-Moi: A forty-minute documentary featuring Interviews with Directors Virginie Despentes, Coralie Trinh Thi and Stars Karen Bach and Raffaella Anderson (40:33).

Q&A Recording with the Directors (8:17).

Theatrical Trailer (0:30).

Bonus trailer for "Thirst" (0:40).

Packaging

Standard Blu-ray case.

Overall

Taken for what it is, a decidedly feminist project with a not so hidden agenda. Definitely not for those easily offended.

The Film: B Video: B+ Audio: A Overall: B+

 


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