A Few Thoughts on “Baise Moi” (2000)

I work with a lady who says she hates white people for “what they did to the Native Americans”, as if the people who took their land and forced them to relocate to reservations are alive and well and still doing nefarious shit to this day. She says it a lot, almost every time that I work with her. It irritates me because she’s not Native. She’s a “European Mexican” or “Mexican of European descent”. A Spaniard, essentially. Her ancestors wiped out the Aztecs. Conveniently, she never brings that up. This lady and I have the same pale complexion, and both of us are descended from Europe, but somehow that translates to her being a paragon of virtue and me being a monster. I just don’t get it. To further complicate things, she’s a “feminist” and is constantly badmouthing men. She advocates for the equal treatment of women while openly hating half our species, not to mention a whole race of people for persecuting another she’s not even part of. She’s obviously confused about who she is and what she stands for, which brings me to a movie called Baise Moi.

Baise Moi is a French exploitation-thriller with hardcore sex scenes and a reputation as being shocking. The internet says that it’s part of a movement called New French Extremism (Wikipedia lists Irreversible, Martyrs, and Raw as other examples of the movement). It’s been labeled a “rape and revenge” movie. I don’t see why, though. As far as that goes, it’s got the rape down, but not the revenge, not in the proper sense of that word. It centers on two women, only one of whom is raped, who embark on a senseless killing spree, seducing and shooting innocent guy-dudes at random.

Credit: Oxford Dictionaries

The plot goes like this:

A woman walks into a bar. She begs her boyfriend to come home. He tells her to piss off and acts like an asshole without being provoked. Up at the counter, another man asks the bartender to set him up with a woman who they call an “ace head queen”. These conversations, I’m guessing, were thrown in to establish that all men are savages who think about sex all the time and it’s ok to kill them because they need to be knocked down a peg.

But then one of the main characters, Nadine, (pornstar Karen Bach from the cover) masturbates to weird bondage porn. Her roommate walks in. Nadine pulls her hand out of her pants. Her roommate tries to talk about her day. Nadine asks for weed.

Close by, another woman named Manu (Raffaëla Anderson, star of a German production that translates to English as Extreme: Mud Pussies Fist and Fuck at the Same Time) is warned by a group of street toughs that a friend of hers named Radouan is dead meat. “Tell him we’re gonna waste his sorry ass”.

Manu runs into a friend who’s just gotten her welfare check. Manu asks her bar owner brother for three hundred bucks to buy beer. He smacks her for being a lowlife, then gives her the money. While sharing a six-pack on a river, Manu and her friend are abducted by a group of men, driven to a parking garage, and brutally beaten and raped. Manu’s friend screams and cries. Manu takes it in silence with an angry look on her face.

After that, Nadine takes a dick to a song by a Foo Fighters soundalike band. As the guy bones her from the back, she watches a TV show about a person holding a gun and slicing sausage. Symbolism. This is it.

The street toughs who were looking for Radouan find him. Manu runs out of her brother’s bar to assist. They turn their attention on her. Manu’s brother comes out and saves her from a beatdown. As a show of thanks, Manu blows her brother’s brains out.

At the same time, Nadine’s roommate starts badmouthing a friend of hers named Francis. She calls him a junkie. Nadine wrestles her roommate to the floor and chokes her til she dies. Then she goes to see Francis. Francis asks her to forge prescriptions for him and deliver a bagful of fake IDs to a drug runner of his. She agrees. He steps outside and gets shot. Nadine heads for the train station.

Manu stops her by chance and tells her to drive them to Paris at gunpoint. Nadine is like a’ight. They drive to the ocean. They tell each other their stories over breakfast. That night, they dance together in their underwear in front of a mirror. This is their war dance.

The next day, they start killing people for no reason at all. From there, the movie turns into a punk rock Bonnie and Clyde meets Thelma & Louise.

I get the feeling we’re supposed to sympathize with these women, like their actions are justified in some way, but it’s not handled well and evokes nothing from me. I feel for characters like Jennifer Hills, Paul Kersey, and Frigga. I don’t feel for these two. One of them is a prostitute, one acts in porn films, and both run with bad crowds, and use drugs, and mooch off the people they know. They’re basically white trash. If the filmmakers were aiming to say something about either gender, it’s lost on me.

I first heard about Baise Moi while listening to Joe Bob Briggs’ audio commentary for Elite Entertainment’s “Millenium Edition” of I Spit on Your Grave. He sells it pretty well. “There’s actually a rape-revenge movie that’s… more explicit than this one,” he says, “even after the scene we just saw (Camille Keaton’s character is sexually assaulted with a champagne bottle). It’s a French movie called Baise Moi, which means “Fuck Me” or “Rape Me”. Came out in 2001. Made by two French feminists who I would be willing to bet were inspired by I Spit on Your Grave. Hardcore penetration scenes. It’s got these two girls who are lured into a warehouse and brutally raped, and then they go out and start killing, maiming, and mutilating men at random just because they’re pigs. And in the ultimate scene in that movie, they make this bartender take off all his clothes and grunt like a pig, and then they put a gun up his (long pause) wazoo and pull the trigger. Available on video.”

In retrospect, half those details are wrong, but you get the gist.

I kept an eye out for a cheap copy and finally bought a Region 2 PAL version from Amazon.co.uk several years back for £2.56 ($3.33 US). I had to rip it to my laptop with a program called DVD Decrypter to crack the region code first, then run my laptop through my TV just to watch it on a decent size screen. In doing so, I came to find that my copy is absent the “ultimate” bartender shot that Briggs talked about. It perplexes me as to why British censors would approve 99% of a movie’s hardcore sex, which includes rape and jizz, but cut a 2-second shot of a gun being shoved up a dude’s bum. I mean, what’s the reasoning behind something like that?

In short, the movie was a big disappointment for me. It’s just not very good. There’s no single fault I can point to and lay all the blame on. The whole thing is bad; it’s poorly made, poorly lit, the main characters are annoying, the sex scenes don’t do much for me, and the special effects and kills leave a lot to be desired. In an excerpt from a Q & A session contained on the disc, writer and co-director Virginie Despentes describes it as a “feel-good movie” and a “beautiful friendship story”, but it’s pretty much the opposite. I find it mean-spirited. It’s not a movie that leaves me feeling entertained or in a better mood than I was going in, which is the main reason I watch movies.

Worse yet, the video quality sucks. It’s not good whatsoever. To me, it looks like the movie was shot with a low-end digital camera, instead of a standard film camera. Or maybe there’s some kind of compression problem going on? To be honest, I have no idea what I’m talking about when it comes to the technical aspects of video. I just know that my copy looks like ass.

Do you see what I mean? This ass looks like ass.
Credit: Universal DVD

Pyew pyew lookin’ like poo poo.

I might revisit this movie some day to review it in full, but for now I think I’ve hit most of the major talking points. What are your thoughts? Have you seen it?