Baise-Moi (18)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner05/02/2002

Three out of five stars
Running time: 77 mins

Worth seeing if you can sit through the explicit, often horrifying sex and violence, this is like a Dogme film of Thelma and Louise re-enacting the ultraviolence scenes from A Clockwork Orange, as directed by Russ Meyer. Or something.

Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi’s highly controversial French film is based on Despentes’ own novel, in which two young women go on a killing spree, randomly killing and screwing their way across France – the title translates as ‘Fuck Me’ or ‘Rape Me’.

The film itself was swiftly banned in its native France and its arrival here (following a brief skirmish with the BBFC) is sure to provoke similar storms of ‘Ban this filth!’ style protest. However, though it’s undeniably flawed and deliberately exploitative, it is nevertheless worth seeing, although it most definitely isn’t for the squeamish.

The main parts are played by two real-life porn actresses. Raffaella Anderson plays Manu, a young girl who, along with her friend, gets raped in an early, horrifying scene. (The BBFC snipped the penetration shots from this scene, though the existence of those shots is clearly and deliberately the most shocking part of the scene). Her friend fights and kicks and screams, but Manu just calmly takes it, saying, "It could have been worse". Later on, she is hanging out with her brother and (accidentally?) shoots him.

The second character is Nadine (played by Karen Bach, who has changed her name from Lancaume since the film’s U.S. release), a low-level prostitute (there's an amusing scene where she's trying to watch the similarly controversial, equally censor-baiting French film Seul Contre Tous on the TV while she's having sex), who lives with a constantly nagging roommate. Nadine drinks all her beer and smokes all her weed - they get into a fight and she (accidentally?) kills her.

It's at this point that the two characters meet, and, having nothing better to do, embark on a sex-and-murder spree for the sheer hell of it. (It's definitely NOT set up as a 'revenge' for Manu’s rape). The sex is hardcore and explicit - it would be porn if it were titillating, but one of the things the film is trying to do is deliberately frustrate the gratification involved in watching such scenes, since most of the sex scenes abruptly end in violence or, in one case, vomit.

It's all shot on video, which adds to its 'underground' feel, as well as making it seem more ‘real’. The violence is explicit and bloody, but that said, you never forget you're watching a film. The characters even comment on this point, saying "Shit, we’re useless - where are the funny lines? We've got to work on our dialogue".

There are, however, some extremely shocking scenes - particularly during the scene where they crash a sex orgy. There are only three REALLY hard-to-watch scenes though (look away now if you don’t want to know, but fore-warned is fore-armed) - a 'stomping to death' scene, the initial rape scene and a scene from the sex orgy involving a gun where no gun should ever, ever be. Don’t try this at home, kids.

Oddly enough, if you can accept the sex and violence, the film is actually pretty enjoyable, largely thanks to the two actresses, who convincingly portray characters with, essentially, nothing to live for. There's a fair amount of humour in the film, too, such as when the pair discuss their inevitable end and dismiss setting fire to themselves as “too pretentious”.

Whatever the directors’ intentions with the film (interviews seem to suggest they had no intentions other than to piss off as many people as possible), they have made an enjoyable exploitation pic (IF you like that sort of thing) that pushes the boundaries of sex and violence. And there's not nearly enough of that, these days.

So, definitely not for all tastes, but worth a look nonetheless.

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Content updated: 18/10/2017 11:56

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