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aka - Fuck Me
France 2000
Directed by
Virginie Despentes & Coralie Trinh Thi
77 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
2.5 stars

Baise Moi

Synopsis: After being raped, Manu (Raffaëla Anderson) argues with her brother and kills him. She meets Nadine (Karen Bach) another young women who no longer gives a damn and together they go on murderous spree across France.

In connection with this film I've seen reference to Ridley Scott's 1991 Thelma & Louise but a more pertinent choice may be Oliver Stone's 1994 Natural Born Killers. In both films we have a couple of callous protagonists who have finally rejected society's constraints, go on a spree of random killing and see what they are doing in terms of cinematic representation and media celebritisation (and why, on that basis, there is a such a censorship fuss about Baise-Moi eludes me, the sex is more explicit and the film literally pornographic should it have occupied the entire duration, but, so I imagine, as splatter movies go, it is pretty unremarkable). Despentes and Trinh Thi do not get overtly polemical as did Stone, (or last year's heavy-handed 15 Minutes) but these meta-cinematic issues are, at least in part, their concern. And they had better interest you also, for, in itself, the film does not offer the viewer a lot.

Certainly not production-wise, for Baise-Moi was shot on digicam and whilst the camera work is professional the overall look is low budget. Similarly whereas the Hollywood narrative format is to set up a pursuer/pursued dynamic, this film simply tracks the girls on their drably murderous, sexually abysmal jaunt until it reaches its rather abrupt denouement. The film has, however, drive, directness and a punchy soundtrack and the two leads (both former toilers in the skin flick industry) are convincing, with Raffaëla Anderson particularly good as the self-centred Manu. (Whilst it may be more presentable that both of the girls are babes it would have been interesting had a couple of plain Janes, even outright woofers, had been cast in their place.)

In the true spirit of the age, the girls progressively upgrade their wardrobes and their cars and much discussion about this film will centre around its depiction of women rebelling against a patriachal system (and so, the Thelma & Louise comparison). Hence, the promotional flyer quotes a female American academic, a professor of Women's Studies and Cinema Studies who obligingly describes this as "a challenging and important film, both politically and aesthetically...".

I'd say it is not any of those things. It is rather a kind of exploitation flick made by people familiar with feminist cultural theory that has managed to garner itself a frisson of artistic legitimacy (Despentes originally published the story as a novel) and, thanks to the censorious, an undeserved amount of attention.




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