Natural porn killers
The raunchy and violent "Baise Moi" has been called the French "Thelma and Louise," but it's also an unflinchingly graphic update of the French New Wave and an intense film experience.
By FRANK VIGORITO
Movie fans who remember the pleasure of seeing their first French New Wave classic and thinking, "how delightfully revolting!" "Baise Moi" is for you. The film has been banned in France for its many scenes of unsimulated sex (a.k.a. hardcore) and graphic violence (a.k.a. post-Tarantino). It's showing in (a few of) the States under the cleaned-up title "Rape Me" (francophiles will explain that the literal translation is "Fuck Me") and that's bound to throw off some unsuspecting viewers. While there is a terrible rape scene early on in the film, please make no mistake that the two main characters in this film, the so-called French "Thelma and Louise," certainly do want to fuck.
A lot has been made of the film's thin plot and excessive sex and violence. Simply put, the two women Manu and Nadine (Raffaella Anderson and Karen Bach) find each other coincidentally after their lives have been quickly made unbearable by a combination of men, drugs and guns. Naturally, they partner up, fool around, and then go on a "Natural Born Killers"-style road trip through France, this time without Oliver Stone and the MPAA to cut out all the good parts.
|Written and directed by: Coralie Trinh Thi, Virginie Despentes.|
Cast: Raffaela Anderson, Karen Lancaume, Delphine MacCarty, Lisa Marshall, Estelle Isaac, Herve P. Gustave, Marc Rioufol, Ouassini Embarek.
In French with English subtitles.
Related links: Official site | English site
Watching the scenes of sex and gore alternately zip along in sometimes music-video speed, I could not help but think of my first time watching Jacques Rivette's "Celine and Julie Go Boating" in a film-studies classes. Like the better known Jean-Luc Godard's "The Weekend," both films had me wondering, "Saywuh?" most of the time because of their loosely defined "narratives" and densely surreal images. Unlike any other film I had seen to that point, I was so pleasantly surprised that my confusion didn't ever diminish the power and delight of these films rather, it enhanced my enjoyment of them. The connection from the New Wave to "Baise Moi" is cleverly illustrated in the occasional self-referential banter the two femmes fatales indulge in when they reach a momentary lull in the action.
"Isn't it weird that nothing's happening right now?"|
"You have a funny definition of 'nothing.'Ę"
"Aren't we worthless? Where's all the witty stuff?"
"We can't make it up ahead of time."
"That would be immoral."
What's most bold about the film is that in the 40 years since the French New Wave began, violence in films has reached new levels and "Baise Moi" brings depictions of sex up to speed with a frank, objective lens not always pretty, but awfully real. Pleasantly, in one break from the tradition of the New Wave vanguard of Godard and Rivette, filmmakers Virginie Despentes and Ceralie Trinh Thi seem to understand the point of a cutting-room floor "Baise Moi" is an intense and highly manageable 77 minutes.
Like Manu and Nadine's tendency to have sex or kill someone to escape from the realities they would rather not face, "Baise Moi" is itself an escape. There's not a whole lot to think about plotwise; the power is in experiencing this film as an event in time and perhaps film history. But as Nadine says, after having a lot of sex, "You don't think as much, and you sleep better."
|JULY 13, 2001|
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