Most helpful positive review
57 of 62 people found the following review helpful
Grotesque yet intriguing
on September 9, 2004
"Baise-Moi" is a French film in the grand tradition of notable director Gaspar Noe, the creator of such nihilistic cinematic nightmares as "I Stand Alone" and "Irreversible." In fact, in one scene in this film a character watches a scene from "I Stand Alone" on a television set. One wonders about Noe's reaction to "Baise-Moi." Was he flattered? Intrigued? Inspired to make more movies that might motivate others to create their own brand of extreme cinema? If anything, this film probably shocked the director. Certainly "I Stand Alone" and "Irreversible" are two very difficult films to watch let alone think about, but "Baise-Moi" beats both of them when it comes to sexual situations and disturbing violence. The writer and director of this film are both involved in the European adult film industry, if that tells you anything. Moreover, most of the actors in the picture work in that field as well. After watching this film, I know its appeal to a mass audience will be extremely limited. That's not to say the movie is nothing more than a pastiche of over the top scenes, as "Baise-Moi" most definitely conveys a serious message. Whether that message is original (it's not), or is more effective when portrayed in such an extreme manner, is open to debate.
The movie tells the story of two lower class French women named Manu (Raffaela Anderson) and Nadine (Karen Lancaume). Manu is a wanderer, a lost soul prowling the gritty French streets side by side with drug dealers, harridans, and other assorted riff raff. One day the young girl and a friend encounter a gang of unruly, menacing toughs with only one thing on their minds. After consummating the horrific act, shown in truly nauseating close up, Manu's embitterment about her life and her surroundings grows exponentially. Nadine, on the other hand, has her own unique troubles. Slaving away day after day as a woman of the night, she must continually endure the indignities such a profession thrives on. The filmmakers spare no sensibilities showing us the minutiae of one of her business dealings, perhaps in an effort to convince the viewer how ghastly, how emotionally and physically damaging, the occupation is. After establishing both characters' lives, chance events bring the two together after a local drug dealer perishes. At first, Manu and Nadine do not trust one another, which makes sense considering their rough upbringing. But eventually the two form a twisted bond, a bond requiring both of them to go on a mission of wanton violence against the human race. These are angry women far past the point of feeling an ounce of sympathy toward their fellow citizens. They prey on both men and women in their quest to even wrongs.
"Baise-Moi" is your traditional revenge flick ramped up to high levels of emotional and physical violence. Moreover, and there's no better way to say this, the movie wallows in pornographic images. The filmmakers never shy away from close-ups of the most extreme acts, making this a film definitely unsuitable for kids. Heck, it's probably unsuitable for most adults if you've never seen a mature film. The movie goes so over the top in its depictions of sex and violence that the viewer might lose touch with the message and the performances let alone taking anything said or shown here seriously. Considering the actors in the film probably aren't familiar with the ins and outs of mainstream cinema, their portrayal of damaged human beings works surprisingly well. You can literally feel the two protagonists' rage pouring out of your television screen as one atrocity after another unfolds. Watching "Baise-Moi" sort of makes you wonder how many other ticking time bombs wander through the streets and back alleys of our decaying civilization. I called the film a traditional revenge film, and it is. Just think "Thelma and Louise" taken to explicit dimensions or the "Death Wish" films shot from the point of view of the crime victims to come up with a touchstone.
The title sums up the picture's message. The French infinitive "baiser" translates as "to kiss," but like many words in our language the term carries multiple meanings. The French apparently assigned coarser definitions to the word, colorful usages that I won't get into here except to say that they hint at how men perceive women at different times. On the one hand, kissing points toward healthy emotions such as love and respect. The other meanings of the word conjure up images of misogyny, domination, and physical abuse. "Baise-Moi" challenges us to reconcile these two definitions, boldly stating that you can't have one without the other. Moreover, if society tacitly endorses a dualistic view of the female personality--one positive and the other deserving of negative attentions--don't act surprised when certain women seek retribution for vicious wrongs. Then again, perhaps I'm simply reading too much into this nihilistic excursion. "Baise-Moi" could just as well be a statement on the disintegration of French society due to massive and sustained unemployment, high crime rates, unchecked immigration, and the sudden realization that their waiters' obnoxious attitudes have reached an all time low.
Whatever the film ultimately means, you will never forget the experience of watching it. "Baise-Moi" barely cracks the seventy-minute mark, but you get a bunch of extras on the DVD to take up the slack. A trailer for the film, a photo gallery, and press clippings discussing the notoriety of the picture help flesh out the viewing experience. Crude, abrasive, and challenging--"Baise-Moi" is sure to secure a special place in the realm of extreme cinema for some time to come. Films like this sort of make you wonder what they'll come up with to shock the audience in twenty or thirty years, don't they?