Directors/Screenplay: Virginie Despentes, Coraline Trinh Thi
Starring: RaffaÃ«la Anderson, Karen Lancaume and CÃ©line Beugnot
Running Time: 74 Mins
Reviewed by Guy Adams
The title to this controversial, French picture translates as â€œFuck Meâ€, to which the only honest answer can be â€œno thanks.â€
Released in 2000, it caused a good deal of controversy for its depiction of violence and explicit sex. Itâ€™s a simple enough Thelma and Louise style tale of two women who go on the run together. Both have snapped and committed criminal acts forcing them to abandon their (frankly rather horrid) lives and go on the lam. All of which is fine and clearly the movie has something to say about the emotional detachment that can result from abuse and poor life choices. Itâ€™s the fact that it chooses to say it with erect penises and gunfire that will always raise eyebrows.
Still illegal in some countries, it has finally been released uncut in the UK after the BBFC agreed that the original cuts they insisted upon could be waived. The argument between the censors and the filmmakers came down to whether the sexual content could be defined as pornography or not. Despuentes and Trinh Thi argued that pornography exists to arouse (and Trinh Thi and a good chunk of the cast hail from the industry so they should know) whereas the sex depicted in Baise-Moi was unambiguously unpleasant and included for dramatic purposes rather than to titillate. I might be inclined to argue that a competently staged rape scene is equally disturbing whether we actually see penetration or not (was Gaspar NoÃ©â€™s Irreversible weakened by itâ€™s lack of anatomical close-up?) but that somehow feels like being distracted from the main issue.
I could accept the extreme violence, I could accept the explicit sex, what I struggle with is that the film is not very good. It feels like a messy, badly acted and shot, student movie that has been remembered for the controversy rather than the creative content. A curious foot note in cinematic history that still gets discussed but for all the wrong reasons.
Arrowâ€™s release certainly adds to that as their release presents a more polished package (special features, lovely booklet etc.) than the film itself deserves. Of course, some would say thatâ€™s the companyâ€™s standard policy, specialising as they do in beautifully presenting grotesque cult gems, but, for me, thereâ€™s a difference between celebrating enthusiastic, exploitation affair and supporting misplaced pretension. Baise-Moi thinks itâ€™s important. It isnâ€™t, itâ€™s a miserable, grotty little film. A Gauloise cigarette butt floating in the clogged urinal of a Parisienne dive.