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Thursday, August 02, 2007

Blind Picks from Netflix: Baise Moi (2001)

All you need for a movie, according to French New Wave cinema's Jean-Luc Godard, is a girl and a gun. With Baise Moi, director Virginie Despentes gives us two girls and a gun, but doesn’t quite manage to give us a whole movie. I recently ordered Baise Moi via Netflix after my boyfriend recommended it to me. He enjoys verite horror films and told me I should see it, if only for the “authentic” rape scenes and realistic violence that supposedly set it apart from other films of its genre. What the hell, I thought, I’ve seen Last House on the Left, The Hills Have Eyes, and I Spit on Your Grave; one more movie of that ilk won’t hurt me. I found out, however, that while it couldn't hurt me, it certainly could bore me.

Baise Moi tells the story of two young women, Manu (Raffaula Anderson), a porn actress, and Nadine (Karen Bach), a prostitute who react to being violently raped by going on a fucking/killing spree. While this set up could have made for some compelling fair, Baise Moi gets bogged down in its own X-rated agenda and the story is unfortunately eclipsed by gun and money shots. The most interesting thing about it--the relationship between Manu and Nadine--is overshadowed by the nonstop brutaity of the film. I was struck by Baise Moi (which is, just in case you were wondering, French for “rape me,”) not because it is filled with shocking imagery but because it lacks the intelligence and sophistication that might have lifted it to another level (of, say, Blue Velvet, Natural Born Killers or Falling Down). Baise Moi is filmed with a low-rent, hand held verite style that is reminiscent of the introductory French show I used to watch on PBS. Within its first ten minutes, Baise Moi is already knee-deep in a violent rape scene. Is there a set up? No. Is there anything afterwards that leads to a satisfying, cathartic conclusion? No. One could say that rape is an act so awful that a “satisfying conclusion” cannot exist, and the film is, by denying the audience satisfaction, forcing us to recognize and appreciate the gravity of the act. After all there are plenty of films depicting realistic violence and rape (Kids comes to mind) that make valuable statements about society. However, Baise Moi’s clumsy direction, didactic sex scenes, terrible acting and crap editing belie a more profound intention. This isn’t John Carpenter, Takashi Miike or Dario Argento. This isn’t even John Waters or Jess Franco. This is a pure porno flick with a slightly higher budget and wider distribution. I found myself resentful that I was able to order this through Netflix, yet I have to go through other avenues to track down Alice’s Erotic Adventures in Wonderland and Behind the Green Door, two pornographic films with much more artistic content than Baise Moi. Just because it’s French doesn’t mean it art, Netflix, get it straight.


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