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Baise Moi

Director: Virginie Despentes, Coralie Trinh Thi
Starring: Rafaëlla Anderson, Karen Bach

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Baise Moi has arrived on British shores shrouded in controversy, which, conversely, is proving to be a bit of a selling point. The unsimulated sex portrayed relentlessly throughout the film is as explicit as hardcore pornography but the plot is also just as clumsy.

Coming in at around 75 minutes, any hint of a feasible female bonding movie - Thelma and Louise (1991) extreme style - is glossed over by the constant sex and violence. The story seems so rushed (and the digital camera work so shaky) that the movie just stumbles from one carnal encounter to the next.

Manu (Rafaëlla Anderson) and Nadine (Karen Bach) have spent their lives being mistreated and marginalised by society. After one is raped and the other witnesses her best friend's murder, they embark on a violent roadtrip, taking vengeance on the world in general and men in particular.

The film is based on the novel of the same name (which translates as either 'Fuck Me' or 'Rape Me', presumably depending on which you deem less offensive), written by Virginie Despentes and selected for the prestigious French literary award, the Prix de Flore. Despentes teams up with ex-porn star, Coralie Trinh Thi, to direct the screen version, which received a rather different reaction on its initial release. It was banned in France until supporters including Catherine Breillat and Jean-Luc Godard campaigned for it to be reclassified.

Despite its liberal use of penetration shots, including anal and fellatio, Baise Moi secured an '18' certificate in Britain with the only cut occurring during a brutal rape scene. The directors cite feminist motivations for this imagery, claiming that such explicit sex, usually only seen in hardcore pornography, is being redeployed to celebrate female sexuality rather than excite men. However, Trinh Thi's experience in blue movies (as well as the two leads') seems to have had an influence, with the sex scenes either gynaecologically explicit or passionless plumbing arrangements.

The violence is senseless and usually an act of pent-up anger against society rather than any specific grudge against the victim. The script offers some sharp acknowledgement of this downfall: "We're useless. Where are the witty lines? People are dying and we're not up to it," says Manu. The gun-toting bad girls lay the patrons of a sleazy sex club to waste (with one man expiring with a bullet through his rectum) and batter a misogynistic monster to death, but the motivations end there. The supposed media frenzy that follows them (according to the film's publicity) consists of them picking up a magazine and noting that they're on the front of it under 'wanted'. Also, any police involvement is conveniently held off until the end, despite them making no efforts to hide or escape and committing their crimes under the gaze of CCTV.

The sheer anarchic energy of Baise Moi has to be admired but any intended message or intellectual vigour is lost amid an unrelenting, nihilistic atmosphere.

Reviewed by Paul Clarke

Reader comments about Baise Moi

antropomorfo (antropomorfo@uole.com.ve) writes:

I think it's a good movie to be watched. I understand that some people, due to their beliefs or principles, don't like it at all, but perhaps that movie would be the next generation in drama movies in this century.

Two thumbs up to Boise Moi

brendan (bvl@iprimus.com.au) writes:

rubbish..poor acting..a couple of women hate men and go shooting a few..women hurt men but never like that. pure exploitation not very well done.

Mike Hill (anodynehq@hotmail.com) writes:

This movie was hilarious. I can't take something as over the top as this film very seriously. It's the film equivalent of a death metal record, brutal and unrelenting, but ultimately devoid of any substance. "So-called feminism?" - Please, spare me.

Voodoo Ray (northernskymusic@hotmail.com) writes:

A homage to brutality, self hate and violence. A bit of lip stick doesn't excuse a character from being a cold-bloodied psychopath (are we supposed to feel sympathy?) I ended up laughing it was so lacking in substance. Piss poor, they should stick to making porn.

BC (animus_nospam_@ihug.co.nz) writes:

Imagine a badly directed hardcore porn flick. Cut the scenes down to about one minute each, water down the plot (yes, water down the plot of a porn flick), and add a rape scene in there for shock value. Throw in heaps of mindless meaningless killings and swearing - and you end up with this utter piece of crap. A complete waste of film.

critical creature (a9509511@unet.univie.ac.at) writes:

This movie is breaking a lot of rules too many people rely on when going to cinema. Lacking any possibility of male identification is surely hard to bear for many 'voyeurs', who thought they could go on watching in the way they used to. But this time it's the women who murder for nothing - just for fun. Surely it doesn't make violence a better thing, but it demasks the stereotypes we refer to when we watch and gives us something to think about. Even the same is true for the explicit sex scenes. This time the women demand to be fucked as they like to. "Thank you, bye bye".

Social Commentator (morustec@yahoo.com) writes:

MOst of you miss the point, because in your insular lives you actually have no understanding of what the message is that the women in this fil are portraying..

read this....


and then watch the film again

linda Loo (lindyloo12@hotmail.com) writes:

Loved it..especially the subtle hint at their lesbian attraction for each other. I found it such a turn on. How many times have i felt like walking down the street and shooting guys for the sheer hell of it...PMS is a bitch!!..LOL

trish (trishcabe@hotmail.com) writes:

At first, the movie hits one as full of disgust. It reminds you of all the infutile rationale behind the random promiscuity that once was. However, this movie, must be looked at more than the superficial sense of bad acting. The movie portrays what men get away with more often than not. The reason that the movie is so controversial is by the sheer fact that women do not do this. They do not subject themselves to the complete sheer ignorance that these women partake in this movie. When was the last time you heard of a serial killer rapist that was a women. Never. That is why this movie comes to us as such a shock. Nothing more, nothing less. Think about it. The scene of the man being shot in the rectum is dripping with symbolism. How else can a man know what it is like to be raped? A man cannot perform in fear, therefore the only way to simulate this idea is through the a-hole.

Rannoch (rannoch1@hotmail.com) writes:

I find the dismissive comments here highly amusing. One suspects a viewing based on the wave of titillation surrounding the release of the film actually giving way to the realisation of the this film not fulfilling the macho-centric view of cinematic erotica.

The film portrays the nihilistic centre of the metropolitan underclass - the shock not being the explicit nature - but the role s being played out by the two women. Brutalised by prostitution or family - returning this with interest on society around them. Their grudge is not on an individual nature - in the same way they have been randomly disenfranchised - each in their own way. It's not personal - it's societal.

If these characters were men - this film would be much more acceptable.

A memory to great acting and high production values it isn't - but a memorable contribution, certainly.

Harry (harry@waxman321.fsnet.co.uk) writes:

This is one of the worst films yet made - a remarkable feat. See it for this reason. Those who praise this film/video should get a life & education. This is the same country (France) that produced the 'New-Wave', Ms Bardot and a great selection of cheese & wine. 1/100

Phillip (Email address withheld) writes:

It would have to be one of the worst movies ever made. It is a bad hardcore porn movie that tries to claim that it is 'art'.

Atleast porn movies do not attempt to hide the fact that the are porn movies.

benjamin (Email address withheld) writes:

funny. Seems like most of the men did not like this movie. Macho?

A good french drama, that explores what a being is possible to do when pushed to the limit.

ERGUN BULENT GUNERGUN (ergunbul@hotmail.com) writes:

it is a disgusting film of all I have ever seen... no good acting,no subject...only unbeleivable violence like killing a man like a mouse, hitting his head to walls until breaking his head etc... there was no depth in this film. I was very upset and this film must be forbidden for health of human race.

Turlough Mc Aleenan (Email address withheld) writes:

This was one of the worst films I've ever had the abject misfortune to watch. There is no plot to speak of and it is obvious that the 2 leads are actresses of the adult variety for 2 reasons. RafaŽlla Anderson who plays Manu is actually not the worst actress I've ever seen. That award goes to and (Karen Bach) Nadine. Her idea of acting is to look at the camera with a surly pout - continously. This was the first clue that the calibre of actress on show was not really the best. And secondly I doubt if any normal actresses would consider allowing themselves to be filmed so explicitly. The only redeeming feature this film has is a thoroughly liberal, European attitude to sex. But next time spare us the close-ups - the same is available on the top shelf of your nearest seedy video store.

Rob Jones (Email address withheld) writes:

I saw this uncut version on DVD. Cinema releases cut part of the rape scene. As a feminist series of statements, the film fails. Some senseless killings (such as the woman at the ATM) just didn't make sense within the feminist framework of the film. The rape scene was sensibly explicit and was successful in portraying the horror of this act. The portrayed attitude of Nadine, shockingly dismissive of the event was one of the highlights of the film.

The sex scenes that caused such a fuss were rather gratuitous. They really weren't necessary to the story. The acting was average. It was a slight misjudgement to appoint porn stars as co directors and lead actresses.

stuart (Email address withheld) writes:

i nearly vomited during the rape scene arousng yet disgusting at the same time it provided another insight into the fragility of the female from in turn disgiused by the angry facade bboth characters exhibit thoughtout the film - bad acting bad script bad technical standpoint bad cross fading and the edtiing leaves much to be desired! i guard my girlfriend a lot closer now since i saw this movie!

Impakto (nullart@aol.com) writes:

I am a man, and I love this movie. Do not listen to anyone who says this movie is horrible.

(Email address withheld) writes:

this films seems to be repeatedly misrepresented by all those looking to analyse it. how can baise moi be regarded as porn when so many people find the rape scene vile and diturbing? the object of pornography is to stimulate but the film makers here go out to shock and disgust. judging by the responses here one would have to ascertain that they had achievd at least this if not making a great movie. As for others viewing it with praise for the portrayal of gratuitous violence against men, they also are missing the point. The graphic portrayal of both sex and violence are included to provoke our moral temparaments(again, the film cannot be seen to be a faliure in this respect either) and force us to consider weather this is an appropriate response to oppression. Anyone reaching the conclusion that this IS an appropriate response is thinking in the same mindset of the mysoginistic thug or the islamic terrorist. The one respect in which this film is a complete failure is that so many people seem to misunderstand this.

(Email address withheld) writes:

rape & abuse people, sex-workers included, and they rightly bite back - A simple message, clear & graphic - The Dead Kennedys Soundtrack alone sets this film apart.

Eugene (Email address withheld) writes:

Guys Its a good movie

But where can i donwload the soundtracks ??

especially the COX 6- STAY OUTSIDE ?

plz i would really appreciate some help

MnM (alert_rouge332@hotmail.com) writes:

Shouldn't film making be about stretching boundaries in the same way real life can? It isn't about the quality of the script, acting, plot etc. - that can only be left to interpretation and the pre-conditioned opinions of the viewer and irrelevant to the films intended message or reason for it's creation.

It isn't about whether it shocked you, challenged you or left you with a warm cuddly feeling deep inside. It is whether it made you think anything unconnected with emotion. Judging by the responses, some it did, others it didn't - for the latter we still have Disney and big Arnold's efforts.

miguel tipacti (encumbramientodelaperfeccion@latinmail.com) writes:

a good mix of violence and sex.the idea and the argument of the movie are wonderful.

a pessimistic ,dense ,crude french movie,one of the best in the last 15 years.

Arnold Shey (wiseup@hotmail.com) writes:

Too nihilistic for my liking but is it art?

I would like to know whether the film is being sold as art and if so, on what basis

before recommending it to anyone.

Vince (spectat0rV04@netscape.net) writes:

finally-- a flick that's as cheesy as a softcore porn flick but as graphic as a hardcorn one... but in a good way! the violence was disturbing at times but not considered as disturbing. perhaps the warning label should also include how the film should only be viewed to those with an open mind...

assuming the movie had a low budget, the casting was great (in comparison to other porn stars, the acting was rather good). the writing was okay at best, but i'd say the weakest point is the camera work.

in any case, critics should realize the film's target audience-- individuals who like sex and/or violence and who are not looking for a high-quality work of art. if you're one of these individuals, then baise moi definitely serves its purpose of entertainment; otherwise, avoid the disappointment and don't see it.

for me, it's the most shocking 'film' i've seen thats not officially classified as a XXX-rated porno which i bought at something as 'family-friendly' as a borders books & music in virginia.

Luan B (Email address withheld) writes:

"finally-- a flick that's as cheesy as a softcore porn flick but as graphic as a hardcorn one... but in a good way!"

I am curious, what makes a film softcore porn rather than hardcore porn, surely graphic content and psychological impact?

I agree that subject/target audience should be a factor in marketing "Base Moi", however the film is placed in the "art house" section of video rental stores and its style indicates that a degree of intellectual understanding is required for full appreciation.

In my humble opinion, the purpose of this film was not to titillate but to exemplify and the inclusion of scenes with a sexual or violent nature are included to illustrate a point. The film needed to be made and made well less its topic be noted by absence. Responsible film making at it's most pressured, controversial product.

Karen (Email address withheld) writes:

is it a good movie, no. Not enough irony, like tarantino, not enough humor, not a very good narration.

But who cares, there are bad movies everywhere. Why is this one so shocking to a lot of people? Because it's made by a woman and because they show explicit sex.

Natural born killers, Thelma and Louise, Bonny and Clyde all movies where people, woman too, kill for plesure. But all made by a male directors. Mostly I don't like those kill for the thrill movies but we cannot denie it happens on this world. Then the explicit sex. That a woman used this style will have shocked people. I as a filmmaker know it can be e very efficient form to use. The fact is that no one, male and female can stay neutral watching it. Everyone who that denies lies. It touches us soemwhere very deep inside. Often we do not want to be touched there by strangers. In this film that's exactly what happens and which fits perfectly into the story. Apart from that it is good to dicuss why it is such a taboo to show it. Sex is part of our everyday life and those images we all know out of our own experiences. And the ones who don't, don't know what they miss. So why not show it. Of course you must be aware of the effect it has on the audience. I don't mean being shocked but the emotional effect is has on all people. When you can use that in your narration, do it. Why should the nicest thing on earth, which we all love to do be a taboo?

V.K (Email address withheld) writes:

I found this film very entertaining. It will make you laugh very hard, although I'm sure that was not the film makers intention. My favourite part was when they put the gun in that man's behind and blew him up! Everyone loves watching French kill each other!^-^

Jim (gigabyte@hotmail.co.uk) writes:

Karen Bach - one of the actresses is dead as of 28/1/05

just thought you may like to know

she commited suicide

The poor girl must have been in pain

The film is great, makes you think about us men, all we want is sex, women want more, not just sex, not our soals - but companionship and reliability, not to be used as a fuck rag or a punchbag - time we did some growing up.

Abdul Karim (Email address withheld) writes:

This is by far, one of the worst films I have ever seen, it is just pointless sex and violence, it is ridiculous the story line is very sub standard, couple of floozies (one a porn star, and one a prostitute), angry at the male species, and basically go around killing all men they come across, this movie was pure rubbish, the producer should have stuck to making pornos...

Sven Gothel (Email address withheld) writes:

Must agree with the "being touched"

review a lot.

I remember my old teachers definition of art. "It's not about good or bad art. It's art, if people start to argue about it. "

Let's hope we can keep living in free countries...

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