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BAISE MOI (unrated)
Sony Pictures Classic Release
Official Site
Director: Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi
Producer: Philippe Godeau
Written by: Virginia Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi
Cast: Karen Bach, Raffaela Anderson, Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi

Rating: out of 5

You know something sinister is afoot when the French ban one of their own. BAISE MOI was considered so violent and disturbing, it screened for a mere three days in France before the Ministry of Culture pulled it from theaters. I always got the feeling the French were righteous snobs, overprotective of their popular culture and constantly whining American cinema was eroding their national heritage. Just what do the French know about popular culture anyway, I wondered? Apparently, they know a whole lot. BAISE MOI, in case your French sucks like mine, translates literally to mean “rape me,” but it should mean, “this is a sick, terrible movie.”

This is not just a shocking picture, it’s not even a cherry bomb going off in your face, it’s more like nuclear cinematic annihilation. Sure, it’s a film you’ll remember, but only because you had to take a hot bath afterwards to scrub the scum off your body.

BAISE MOI is a “Bonnie and Bonnie” movie about two weirdo violent chicks who murder, mutilate and fuck their way across France. Manu (Anderson) lives in the projects, freeloading off her brother and making porn films to get by. Nadine (Bach) is a fetish prostitute. The roles aren’t a stretch for either actress; their other film credits include acting in French porn flicks. They meet in a train station, and here their crime wave across France commences. For a full uncut, torturous 77 minutes we’re subjected to their exploits and eventual demise.

I feel really bad about panning this film. The press kit is filled with all sorts of feminist mumbo-jumbo hype, the kind of thing I normally get really excited about, stuff about a “feminist warrior vision” blah-blah-blah. Yet here’s the problems with BAISE MOI: We feel no sympathy for the characters. Even at the start of the film, when Manu is raped, we feel nothing. It’s a shocking, disturbing rape but we hardly know the characters at all before we are thrust into their violent world. I get the feeling I’m being toyed with. Instead of being moved or outraged, the early rape scene is just a cheap tactic to justify full frontal nudity. Later, when the women rob a wealthy Frenchman, he recognizes only too late who his assailants are. Speaking to them kindly and curiously, he wonders what drove them to their murderous rampage. We never get any insight into their motivations, and neither does he. Manu and Nadine just blast him away and move on.

Even the dialogue is flat and dull. Right before pulling the trigger, murdering a gun store employee, MANU mumbles a clichéd one-liner. Afterwards she herself bemoans the lack of clever repartee. “Where are all the witty lines?” she asks. For 77 minutes, I was asking myself the same question.

To top it off, it’s not like any of this has never been done before. Richard Kern and Nick Zedd have been making this kind of perverse, sick stuff for years. What’s different about BAISE MOI? Why all the controversy and media coverage? Maybe this film got lucky with a good distribution deal, or maybe it’s the frenzy that accompanies film any time censorship kicks in. Either way, if you really want to get off and have a good time, for god’s sake, just rent a porn.

—Nancy Semin

hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

It’s worth a full-price ticket.

It’s worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

Check out the video from the library, if you must.

While we would never encourage anyone to destroy a video...

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