Baise-Moi (Rape Me)
dir. Desppentes, Trinh Thi
Opens Fri July 6
Cinema 21

This movie was BANNED! It's unclear whether it was because of the rape scene in the first 10 minutes, or the close-ups of actual "penis-vagina" penetration, or all the violence, or a combination of the three. (Although I think it's because they kept playing the same bad pop-punk song over and over through the whole movie.) Furthermore, it was banned in France and Ontario, Canada. I'll just let that statement stand on its own.

Baise-Moi is the story of two women, a prostitute (Nadine, played by Karen Bach) and a porn star (Manu, played by Raffaela Anderson), who meet up by circumstance and decide to start killing their oppressors. For the most part, their oppressors are men, of course, but since they are two ladies gone mad with the sexual thrill of bashing in peoples' heads, they don't discriminate against women. Mostly, though, they pick up on men, tempt them with their hot bods and smoky eyelids, and then murder them for kicks.

The driving force behind the killing is that these women are attempting to take power back from the men who've stolen it from them. In practically the first scene of the film, Manu and her friend are kidnapped and raped by a gang of men. While her friend struggles and cries, Manu merely freezes up, defiantly jutting out her chin. She later says something to the effect of, "I don't keep anything precious in my cunt." A few scenes later, she's shooting guys in the head.

Most people are calling Baise-Moi a feminist milestone. After all, it's a movie in which women are finally allowed to go apeshit onscreen! They're fucking, then murdering! Wahoo! However, although Nadine and Manu never seem to allow the men to overpower them, I think this movie's message is very far from "pro-woman." In fact, I was surprised the film wasn't written by a man. Even with the supposed female-empowerment undertones, the whole thing seems like a stereotypical male fantasy--two hot chicks with guns--and falls into the tired trap of women finding empowerment by assuming aggressive, stereotypically male characteristics. At the same time, the premise that men have the power to drive women batty enough to kill is rooted in dramatic, 1950s pulp. Though the graphic nature of Baise-Moi is a product of this age, it nevertheless plays into fifty-year-old philosophies.