Baise-moi (2000) from ICMS

The controversial French flick "Baise-moi" finally arrived this week on DVD. 

The movie, based on the book with the same title by co-director Virginie Despentes, deals with two women from a destitute neighborhood, Nadine (Karen Lancaume/Bach) and Manu (RaffaŽla Anderson). Nadine is a prostitute and Manu... well it's never specified what she is. And that is exactly what's wrong with this film, it's never specified what exactly someone or something is or why the people in it behave the way they do. 

The story goes roughly as follows. One day Nadine and Manu get raped and from that point on they go on a rampage of murder, violence and sex. Why Manu also does so is unclear because she was quite obviously not disturbed by the rape at all, only Nadine had severe problems with it. Anyway, that's how the script wanted it I guess, and so the actresses act accordingly. Some reviews said that they took revenge on men for the horrible act but that doesn't make much sense since they also kill women. They clearly have a serious grudge against the whole society. It seems to me that there isn't much of a story in this film. The girls just drive around a bit in France killing people and having sex on their way. The road movie theme is also never completely elaborated. After a meager 75 minutes, 3 of which go to the end credits, the film ends with Manu being shot by a garage owner she tried to rob, and Nadine getting arrested by the cops. I found this film very poor. The script and the actions of the protagonists never make much sense, on the technical side the images seem shot with a hand held camcorder. They're grainy and especially the indoor scenes are unsharp and too dark. Quite surprisingly the acting by pornstars Karen Lancaume/Bach and RaffaŽla Anderson is more than acceptable in this movie where nobody is nice.

So why did this flick get an X-rating in France where there's apparently only one cinema left that shows X-rated pictures? The answer looks simple : the film shows people having real sex, so an X-rating seems appropriate. In Belgium we don't have an X-rating, we only have two categories : children admitted and children not admitted. This movie was obviously children not admitted and it played here for a couple of weeks without controversy except for what we heard from France, and probably attracted more spectators than in France. It looks to me that all the fuzz in France was about more than the sex and the violence in this movie. After all a similar film without nudity and sex, namely "Ma 6-T va crack-er", was also pulled out of the cinema's because officials said it was inciting people to violence. I've seen that movie and it simply depicts, a bit like "Baise-moi", the living conditions in France's slum suburbs where rape, violence and other crimes have become part of everyday life and where the police don't even go in anymore, except in massive force when things really get out of hand. It looks more like some French politicians are in denial here. And isn't it much simpler to ban a movie than to restore order in their slums ? But they better watch out : letting these things happen could be interpreted by some as committing crimes against humanity and before they know it, they'll have to stand trial in Belgium, thanks to that law of ours. It's raining complaints for crimes against humanity over here now. Kurds, Armenians, Chechens, Native Americans, etc... take your chance, Belgium, model state and the new conscience of the world, will come to the rescue :-) Anyway I'm diverting but I really didn't know that a badly made movie could lead to this level of discussion. By the way, I read somewhere that more than 200,000 copies of the book were sold in France. I really hope it's better than the movie.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • full-screen

  • posters and stills

  • reviews

  • trailer and flash module

Scoop's comments: I don't really have any. Some reviewers suggested that this was an important film. That's only because they were impressed with the sexual politics. After all, it's a woman's rage film with graphic violence against men, and some people feel that it is good so see this reach equality. Whatever.

I did enjoy the fact that the guns didn't actually go off. They were just playing guns, like little kids. They would point the gun, the victim would drop, and the shooter would fake a recoil!

Sheer genius! Genius, I tell you.

Unless you think you can get some catharsis from that womanly rage, there's really no reason to like the film at all.  ICMS nailed it in his review.

The Critics Vote

  • Roger Ebert generously scored it one star

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.2  (toughly 4.2 too high!)
  • With their dollars ... more people talking than looking. It was shown on one screen in the USA, and was seen by 35,000 people in France
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well. A G means that it is the same quality as an F, and Jeff Fahey is in the film as well.

Based on this description, this film is an H. This is the only movie I've ever seen which would be improved by the presence of Jeff Fahey. In fact, a Jeff Fahey one-man show, "Jeff, A Man and His Roles",  would be better than this, even if Jeff filmed it himself with a single stationary camcorder.

Return to the Movie House home page