A vividly nihilistic road movie set in France, Baise-moi (literally meaning ‘f*** me’) centres on a sex-and-murder spree by Manu and Nadine, two prostitutes who hit the road when one of them is violently raped and the other witnesses her best friend’s murder.
Mixing punk rock energy with feminist rage, and already touted as ‘a Thelma and Louise for the XXX Generation’, Baise-moi combines indie cinema with psychological drama and explicit sex as the two women kill and fornicate their way across France at breakneck speed.
Based on the novel by Virginie Despentes, and directed by her in collaboration with former porn actress Coralie Trinh Thi, Baise-moi is both squalid and exhilarating – ‘artistically important’ or ‘adult sex movie’ according to your point of view.
What becomes apparent almost from the word go is that the directors adopt a ‘take no prisoners’ approach throughout, kicking off the sexual action with a skin-crawling double rape sequence involving the two female protagonists.
This, then, is the spur – the moment that sets our two anti-heroines on the road to damnation. Yet while one of the central themes – violence against women – is relentless in its depiction (the British censor ordered a significant cut before classifying the film for release) the real pornography here is not the sexual violence contained therein but the physical violence that accompanies it.
Coralie and Despentes present Manu and Nadine (Raffaela Anderson and Karen Lancaume) as two modern women who know what they want. Their savage killing spree is an act of rage against a society that has wronged them and their victims are as random as the acts of senseless violence that spurred them on in the first place.
The victims include a woman at a cash point; a lecherous passer-by that mistakenly thinks his luck is in when the two women pick him up, and the various inhabitants of a sex club.
The sex, when it comes, is raw and unflinching. Strangely, it adds very little to the film other than passing shock value, and even that wanes alongside the overt violence of the women’s gunplay.
This is society gone mad – two run-of-the-mill low-lifes go temporarily insane, destroy much of what they come into contact with but discover within that madness a form of freedom they never knew while conforming to society’s mores.
At its most basic Baise-moi is a low-grade thriller featuring an anorexic script, ultra-realist (read ‘bad’) acting and sensationalist sex scenes. If it has any merit it perhaps shows that sexuality can be incorporated into mainstream movies, just as Ai No Corrida proved in 1976.
The main problem is that Baise-moi is so unremittingly squalid that, as a piece of entertainment, it fails just as surely as it fails as an example of shock cinema. Coralie and Despentes lack the fundamental filmmaking techniques to lift this above merely the seedy B-movie that it is, while their stars – two former porn actresses making the crossover into ‘legitimate’ movies – charge through the proceedings with little or no understanding of the nuances that are required to make it even vaguely palatable.
In short, Baise-moi is simply a lousy film. See it to say you’ve seen it, to prolong dinner party conversation or annoy the mother-in-law.