Grotesque garbage with a penchant for nihilistic sex and violence.
In this reviewer's humble experience, very few films marketed as "shocking" ever live up to the promise of extremity. Any feature that sports a made up 'official'-looking warning on the cover proudly proclaiming "This film contains scenes of explicit X & Y and WILL offend some viewers!" is usually talking out of it's poop chute. Baise-moi, banned in it's native France, is one instance where the label seems incredibly well justified. For anyone who has missed the hype, the film concerns two female social outcasts who have the grave misfortune to be raped by a couple of hoods. A shocking enough act in itself, it is the catalyst for a Thelma & Louise-like gun-toting rampage across France, the pair exterminating pretty much everyone they encounter in an ever-spiraling orgy of explicit sex and extreme violence.
Much has been made of this movie's 'shakedown' of comfortable mainstream cinema, and one thing that cannot be denied is that it does make for uncomfortable viewing. Porn director Coralie and first-time feature director Virginie Despentes certainly put the pedal to the metal of indecency, hiring a cast largely known for pornographic work to bring their vision of social decay to the big screen. Perpetrators Nadine (Karen Bach) and Manu (Rafa?lla Anderson) are certainly a compelling enough couple, both young and attractive females who have unfortunately grabbed life by the shit end of the stick. That sex and violence are all they have ever really known is fair enough, but that they fight back by reveling in these acts to a gruesome degree is what has upset so many viewers and critics alike.
Some argue the film represents the predicament of women in a male-oriented patriarchal society, but this is clearly bollocks. As women are finding themselves more and more empowered with each passing day, with the balance of gender in the workplace being redressed markedly, it's more likely the argument would apply to men seeking to maintain a last grasp on masculinity in an increasingly equal world. Clearly what we have here is pure exploitation masquerading behind a mask of pretentious indie-righteousness.
Is it challenging? Yes, purely because it is so grotesque. Is it artistic? Is it fuck. Anyone who can watch such a mixture of hardcore sexual activity including penetration if full view and acts of fellatio, and extreme violence (a man having a gun inserted in his anus before being shot, anyone?) without flinching must be a rare and/or disturbed breed indeed. Separately, it could be argued these kinds of acts may have merit, but here they are juxtaposed so closely they exist only for sickening voyeuristic purposes, and I challenge anyone to come up with a balanced and reasonable argument in it's favour.
Now, I'm certainly not the voice of the moral majority as many will attest to, but as difficult as it is to phase my warped mind even I have limits, and Baise-moi has bought a one way ticket on a journey waaaaay outside them. The thought of some irresponsible idiot having this in their collection and their kids happening across it scares me half to death. Had it wanted to be an out-and-out porno I would have no objection. Had it wanted to be an out-and-out gore-fest road movie with it's tongue in it's cheek, a la From Dusk Till Dawn, I would also have no objection. Unfortunately the directors' decision to revel in both with impunity and no obvious moral stance is utterly unforgivable.
I'm not afraid to confront the problems of society; I just know exploitative, sickening, pretentious shite when I see it, and I most definitely see it in Baise-moi.
Craig Disko has awarded this atrocity 0 out of 5 Sly Disko Winks. Please avoid.
Rafa?lla Anderson (Manu)