DVD Review: Baise-Moi (2000)

Baise-Moi DVD CoverDistributor: Arrow Video

BBFC Classification: 18

Directors: Virginie Despentes & Coralie Trinh Thi

Starring: Raffaëla Anderson, Karen Lancaume, Céline Beugnot, Adama Niane, Delphine McCarty

After suffering a brutal gang rape Manu (Raffaëla Anderson) bumps into Nadine (Karen Lancaume), who is going through her own traumas brought on by the local scumbags that have just shot her friend. Realising that they share something on an empathetic level the pair take to the road, escaping from the drudgery of their everyday lives and turning to robbery, sexual deviancy and murder to get their kicks.

There are those that say this film is nothing more than sadistic porn that pretends to have an artistic feminist message. There are also others who say that this is a film about female empowerment, a savage take on the Thelma & Louise ideas of freedom, role reversal and fighting back. Which is it? Probably both to some extent, but whatever side of the argument you fall on there’s no denying that Baise-Moi is powerful on every level.

But whether you can appreciate that power is another thing entirely. The sex scenes – and there are plenty of them – are all real and leave nothing to the imagination, and that includes the brutal rape scene and the extreme penetration close-up. What follows that atrocity is a particularly important character development, as when it is Manu’s turn to be violated after her unfortunate and very vocal friend she just lays there on all fours showing no emotion or any movement, giving her attacker nothing in return and forcing him to give up his assault.

Despite the gritty, low-grade quality of the film, the graphic violence and the sexual depravity, Baise-Moi does have some positives that lifts it above your average exploitation fodder, namely in the performances of the two main leads – both porn actresses who have the uncanny ability to actually act – and the script, both elements that combine to give what would otherwise be two generic characters some depth and a level of sympathy, although probably not as much as the film’s two female directors would like.

There’s not really a lot else to say about Baise-Moi on the page (or screen) as it really is a film that needs to be seen. It is shocking, disturbing and all the other adjectives that routinely get thrown at it, and as an example of challenging cinema it is probably one of the most defining statements out there. However, as a film, a narrative or a piece of entertainment it is sorely lacking as there is no redemption or any real purpose with regards to the story, resulting in what could only be described as nihilism but from what you’ve already seen by the time you get to the gloomy ending there’s really no other way for it to go, making it a difficult film to recommend on that level. Ultimately, though, it is a film that any cult cinema enthusiast should watch.

Baise-Moi

Special Features: The Making of Baise-Moi documentary, Q&A recording with the directors, original theatrical trailer, reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Joe Wilson, collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by author Kier-la Janisse and The History of Baise-Moi by Virginie Despentes.

UK Release Date: 25th March 2013

Arrow Films – Website

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