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September 16, 2012 | by  | in Arts Film |
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Retrospective Review- Baise-Moi

Dir. Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi

When Baise-Moi was first reviewed by Salient in 2003, it was summed up as “pernicious, pornographic and pretentious” and ended up in this fine publication’s ‘worst of the year’ list. In a way, the reviewer was right: Baise-Moi is an aggressive, confrontational movie that preaches a message that a lot of people probably don’t want to hear – pernicious. There’s also real sex in it, so it’s pornographic in that sense; but it’s not something to wank to. Pretentious? That I’m not so sure about, but it is in French.

It wasn’t just Salient that had problems with the film. Court injunctions postponed its initial screening, and even today Baise-Moi can only be screened by an incorporated film society or in a tertiary institution (the library has a copy on DVD – see it while you legally can!).

So what’s all the fuss about? Baise-Moi is a mash-up of the road movie and rape/revenge genres – Thelma and Louise meets I Spit On Your Grave. The protagonists, Manu and Nadine, start off poor, bullied and marginalised in a shitty Parisian neighbourhood before really being shafted by the patriarchy. After Manu is raped, the two meet up and decide to hit the road together – fucking who they please and killing anybody who deserves it, as well as many who don’t.

Described by one of its co-directors as a “feminist warrior vision”, Baise-Moi is a grim, gritty, ultraviolent masterpiece of low-budget filmmaking. Infamous for its punk-as-fuck attitude and tackling an unsavoury subject in a thoroughly unsavoury way with its provocative blend of pornographic tropes and unrelenting violence; its sly, self-aware (and surprisingly fresh for a film produced in 1999) sense of humour often minimised or even ignored.

For those willing to take the risk, Baise-Moi offers a unique – and polarising – perspective on society’s conceptions of sex, violence and gender.

 

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