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Site created 12/15/97.

review added: 3/15/02

2000 (2001) - Remstar Distribution

review by Adam Jahnke of The Digital Bits

Baise-Moi Film Rating: B

Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): D/C+/D+

Specs and Features

74 mins, NR, full frame (1.33:1), single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, poster & photo galleries, trailer, website, "Flashcard" short, press reviews, animated film-themed menu screens with music, scene access (7 chapters), languages: French (2.0), subtitles: English

Aficionados of art house cinema may be aware that American audiences in 2001 were treated to (or subjected to, depending on your point of view) a surprisingly large number of international films that dealt frankly and explicitly with sex. This isn't the first time non-porno movies have featured graphic acts of sexual intercourse. (There are some folks who are going to argue that any movie that shows people having sex is pornographic. I could probably spend a long time arguing semantics on this issue, but for the sake of brevity, let's just operate under the assumption that there is a different intent between the kinds of movies I'm talking about and the movies that are kept behind the curtain at your local video store.) It's been going on at least as far back as 1976, when Japanese director Nagisa Oshima made the extremely explicit In the Realm of the Senses. Of course, all of these movies have come from Europe or Asia. Americans are still way too uptight about sex to show established actors doing the nasty on screen. But of all the movies in this sub genre, few have been as controversial or as provocative as Baise-Moi.

The title was translated for American audiences as Rape Me, which isn't exactly correct. The literal translation is Fuck Me. Naturally, not too many theatre managers are going to slap that on their marquees, so Americans were left with a title with a much different meaning than the rest of the world. On its most simple terms, Baise-Moi is a grungy, hardcore version of Thelma & Louise. The movie follows Nadine (Karen Bach) and Manu (Raffaëla Anderson) as they take a road trip across France, fueled by drugs, booze, murder, and lots and lots of sex. Needless to say, this is not a movie for the squeamish or easily offended - the violence is as graphic and harsh as the sex and, often, the two are combined. The scene that will test most viewers' endurance comes early on, with an extremely disturbing rape scene that is almost certainly the most graphic portrayal of this crime ever filmed. It's a horrifyingly real sequence that will either cause you to stop the movie or hang in to see how much further over the edge it's going to go.

Written and directed by Virginie Despentes (who also wrote the novel upon which the movie is based) and Coralie Trinh Thi, Baise-Moi is intended to shock and provoke extreme reactions. It's hard to imagine anybody being utterly indifferent to this movie. You'll either despise it or… well, maybe not love it but certainly be impressed at the raw emotion that is captured on screen. Personally, I wasn't sure what I thought after I watched this movie… which, for me, is a good thing. I appreciate movies that force you to think about what you've seen and don't simply provoke a knee-jerk reaction, whether it's positive or negative. In the end though, Baise-Moi is a movie unlike any other I've seen. It's a rough, nihilistic film that does what it sets out to do: it forces you to consider what drove these women to this.

Remstar has released Baise-Moi as a pretty ragged DVD. The movie was shot on digital video and is supposed to look rough-edged and dark. That's all well and good, but I've seen other DV movies transferred to DVD that have looked much better than this. The video here is so grainy that it sometimes looks like it was transferred by aiming a camera straight at a TV playing a VHS copy of the movie. To make matters worse, it's presented in a full-frame only aspect ratio. I don't know what ratio the movie was shot in, but there are scenes in this where actors are bisected on either side of the frame. To me, this either suggests that this is a badly cropped full-frame presentation of a 1.85:1 film or the movie was shot by an incredibly stupid cinematographer in the first place. I would buy either explanation. The audio track is what it is. Nothing special is going on here but at least you can hear the dialogue and the music and effects sound like they were correctly mixed.

The extras are also kept to a minimum. There are galleries of posters and photos from the movie, the trailer and a "Flashcard" movie from the website. The disc also includes one of the stupidest extras I've ever seen. If you select "website" from the special features menu, you get to see four text-heavy screen captures of the movie's web site. Unless your TV is the size of a garage door, you're never going to be able to read what these things say, so the whole thing is pretty pointless. Most interesting is a selection of excerpts from reviews of the movie, with opinions ranging the gamut from "exhilarating" to "tripe". I do agree with one of the comments from the negative reviews, which lambastes the music as some of the worst French heavy metal ever recorded.

Baise-Moi is not a movie for everybody and even though I appreciated the film, I can't imagine that I'll ever want to watch it again. Still, adventurous movie-lovers will definitely want to check it out to see how far the envelope of shock cinema is being pushed these days. It's a far cry from the days of I Spit on Your Grave.

Adam Jahnke

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