DVD Review – Baise-moi (2000)

Baise-moi, 2000.

Directed by Virginie Despentes and Coralie.
Starring Karen Lancaume and Raffaëla Anderson.

Baise-moi Arrow DVD cover

SYNOPSIS:

Two young women embark on a destructive tour of sex and violence.

Baise-moi

Often a film will be made with a certain intent. Often a director and/or writer can struggle to adequately convey and ideals or message they set out to. Baise-moi, supposedly a feminist film with a strong message, is one that has sparked a lot of controversy since its release. It’s still banned in some countries to this day, and you can even be hit with a maximum 10 years in prison for the distribution, import or possession of this film in Australia. Not only was this highly controversial for its explicit sex scenes, but also for its excessive and unhinged violence too.

Baise-moi is about two disturbed young women who both go on the run after killing someone (in one case her brother, in the other an annoying roommate). This is after we’ve already witnessed one being raped and the other whoring herself (explicitly I might add). They then meet totally by chance and without much regard for logic or reality barely exchange pleasantries before going on the run together. From then on they rampage across France on a killing spree.

As a piece of filmmaking Baise-moi is appalling. Often criticised for being little more than a porn film, the first thing you notice is how cheap and shoddy it looks. Filmed on digital video without lighting it even lacks some of the production care that even your typical porn flick might include. Then there’s a constant barrage of awful music, be it the porn-esque score or ear grating mixes soundtrack music. For writer and director Virginie Despentes to try and counter argue this as not being porn she comes up against a major problem. Her main cast are former porn actresses. Her co-director Coralie is also a porn actress. Then of course there’s the matter of the sexually explicit scenes.

However, I will back Despentes in her argument. This is not porn. For porn in its simplicity is actually effective (or so I’ve heard…apparently) and does what it sets out to achieve, without taking itself too seriously. Looking particularly at the 80s porn industry films would often ape big Hollywood pictures. There’d be at least an effort to have some plot and characters amongst all the more titillating aspects. Having studied film at Uni, and actually having had to study a porn film for one module’s lesson I can tell you that Baise-moi is not porn. It does not entertain like say Jane Bond Meets Octopussy can. That even taking away the sex bits was actually quite entertaining in a hilariously bad kind of way. Much in the porn industry, or at least was, that way. There’s a certain charm, where-as Baise-moi lacks even that minimal charm that a back room of the newsagent skin flick might. It says a lot watching a film where you feel like a walk on cameo from Ron Jeremy might help it along a bit. Ironically Baise-moi is often studied in film courses in sexuality in cinema modules.

In terms of shock value, this will shock some people, while others will simple be left cold by how pointless the whole feature is. It’s not even something that would be passed around the schoolyards by giggling teen boys. Merely a bad, explicit clone of Thelma and Louise (on acid), this has no character, no substance, no class and mostly woeful acting, as well as thoroughly illogical scenes.

Had it been made purely for shock value, in some regards Baise-moi would be a success. Explicit sexual scenes are nothing new in cinema. The acceptance into legal distribution, whereas hardcore porn is still illegal boils down to the distinction between art and porn. How Baise-moi is considered artistic in any way I’m not sure. But even Hollywood has a fascination with pushing the boundaries of what audiences will see and accept in terms of not only violence but sex. Chloe Sevigny, a fairly well known actress, has featured in Brown Bunny which had sexually explicit scenes. Now director Lars Von Trier’s next film Nymphomaniac will feature un-simulated sex scenes. How explicitly it (Shia LaBeouf’s hang-dang) will be shown remains to be seen.

On a purely filmic level there’s nothing to really recommend about Baise-moi. The new DVD release from Arrow is nicely done, perhaps more so than this film deserves. The accompanying making of documentary is far more interesting than the film itself, offering an insight into its conception, and its reception upon completion, and at least some insight into the intent of the film. Some films deserve the notoriety. Some have some depth to back up the more controversial aspects. This does not, and perhaps only gets away with much of the explicit aspects because the film-makers were women. Despite this fact though, it does not make this any less exploitative than if it had been written and directed by a man. It’s Troma without the gleeful, oddly charming disregard for taste, and with some porn shots thrown in.

Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ 

Tom Jolliffe

Around the Internet…