Baise-moi

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Baise-moi

French film poster
Directed byVirginie Despentes
Coralie Trinh Thi
Produced byPhilippe Godeau
Written byCoralie Trinh Thi
Virginie Despentes
StarringKaren Lancaume
Raffaëla Anderson
Music byVarou Jan
CinematographyBenoît Chamaillard
Julien Pamart
Editing byAïlo Auguste-Judith
Francine Lemaitre
Véronique Rosa
StudioPan-Européenne
Distributed byFilmFixx (United States)
Release date(s)28 June 2000
Running time77 minutes
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench
 
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Baise-moi

French film poster
Directed byVirginie Despentes
Coralie Trinh Thi
Produced byPhilippe Godeau
Written byCoralie Trinh Thi
Virginie Despentes
StarringKaren Lancaume
Raffaëla Anderson
Music byVarou Jan
CinematographyBenoît Chamaillard
Julien Pamart
Editing byAïlo Auguste-Judith
Francine Lemaitre
Véronique Rosa
StudioPan-Européenne
Distributed byFilmFixx (United States)
Release date(s)28 June 2000
Running time77 minutes
CountryFrance
LanguageFrench

Baise-moi (Fuck Me in English) is a French film co-directed by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi, released in 2000. It is based on the novel by Despentes, first published in 1999. The film received intense media coverage because of its graphic mix of violence and explicit sex scenes. Consequently, it is sometimes considered an example of the "New French Extremity".

Baiser is a French verb meaning "to fuck"; it also means "to kiss" when used as a noun (un baiser). Baise-moi would be translated as "Fuck me". The film has also been screened in some markets as "Rape me", but this translation, which is not in the French word, was rejected by the directors in a 2002 interview.

Contents

Plot

Baise-moi tells the story of Nadine (played by Karen Lancaume) and Manu (Raffaëla Anderson) who go on a violent spree against a society in which they feel marginalised. Nadine is a part-time prostitute, and Manu is a slacker who does anything—including occasional porn film acting—to get by in her small town in southern France.

One day Manu and her friend, a drug addict, are brutally gang-raped by three men. While her friend struggles, screams, and fights against the rapists, Manu lies still with a detached look, which angers the man raping her. Manu then returns to her brother's house, and does not tell him what has happened, but he realises after noticing bruises on her neck. He gets out a gun and asks Manu who was responsible, but when Manu refuses to tell him, he calls her a "slut" and implies that she actually enjoyed being raped. In response, Manu picks up his discarded pistol and shoots him in the head.

Meanwhile, Nadine returns home and has an argument with her roommate, whom she kills, before leaving with their rent money. Nadine suffers another emotional setback when she meets her best friend, a drug dealer, in another town, but he is shot and killed while out obtaining drugs with a prescription she forged for him.

Later that night, having missed the last train, Nadine meets Manu at the railway station. Manu says she has a car, if Nadine will drive for her. They soon realise that they share common feelings of anger, and embark on a violent and sexually charged road trip together. In need of money they hold up a convenience store, and also kill a woman at an ATM. Finally, after much killing and sexual activities, the two women enter a swingers' club and kill everyone there. The pair discuss what they have done, and agree that it has all been pointless because nothing has changed inside them.

During their spree the entire country is abuzz over the beautiful bandit/killers. Some people actually support them, while most are in fear. One day Manu enters a roadside tire store to get some coffee, leaving Nadine outside. Hearing gunfire, Nadine rushes in to find Manu shot by the owner, whom she kills. Nadine takes Manu's body to a forest and burns it, before driving to a beach. With tears in her eyes, Nadine puts the gun to her head, intending to commit suicide, but gets arrested by the police before she can do so.

Production

The film was filmed on location between October and December 1999 in Biarritz, Bordeaux, Lyon and Marseille. It was shot on digital video without artificial lighting. This low budget method of filming divided critics—some said it gave the film an amateurish look. Lou Lumenick, reviewing the film in the New York Post, went further and said it "looked like hell". Others, such as James Travers writing for filmsdefrance.com,[1] said the filming method added something to the film. Travers wrote "the film's 'rough and ready' feel helps to strengthen its artistic vision and draws out the messages which it is trying to get across, without distracting its audience with overly choreographed 'shock scenes'."

Release

The movie was co-directed by actress Coralie Trinh Thi whose previous work was in unambiguously pornographic movies. The two lead roles were also played by porn actresses, while porn actor Ian Scott appeared in the film as one of the rapists. Perhaps in part due to this, the film was criticised as thinly veiled pornography by some sections of the media. Le Monde, for instance, called it a "sick film". Time magazine bucked the trend by saying: "Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi's festival sensation is stark, serious and original. And as one of the amoral avengers, Raffaela Anderson has true star quality – part seraph, all slut." The co-directors rejected the pornography charge: Trinh Thi said in an interview with the Sunday Times that "This movie is not for masturbation, [thus it] is not porn." Despentes agreed, saying their film "was not erotic."

In its home country, the film was initially released with a 16 rating, given by a ministerial commission. The rating caused outrage, particularly amongst members of the right-wing Promouvoir religious group, which is strongly associated with the Mouvement National Républicain. Some groups litigated against the classification decision, arguing that the film should be X-rated given its high content of realistic sex and extreme violence, both of which are grounds for X classification in France; the Conseil d'État ruled its classification illegal, removing it from the theater circuit. As the first film to be banned in France for 28 years, it became something of a cause célèbre—with one anti-censorship campaigner[who?] calling the ban "totalitarian state censorship". The Conseil later re-classified the film with an X certificate, a category usually reserved for mainstream pornographic movies. Minister for Culture Catherine Tasca ended the debate by re-introducing an 18 certificate, allowing the film to be re-released in mainstream theatres.

In Australia, the movie was initially passed for viewing at the highest possible R18 rating in a 6-5 vote by the country's Classification Board. However the Attorney-General invoked his powers under the 1995 Classification Act to have the board's decision reviewed. The Classification Review Board (a separate entity to the Classification Board) ruled that the film could only have an RC (Refused Classification) rating and the film was pulled from cinemas. It was later revealed that 50,000 people had seen the film prior to banning but according to Des Clark, director of the Office of Film and Literature Classification, just "one or two" of those had complained about the film. Most complainants, he explained, had not seen the film.

In Canada, the film was banned in Ontario, initially because it was deemed too pornographic. The producers asked for it to be re-rated with a pornographic rating, only for it to be banned because there was too much violence for a pornographic film. A second review passed them with an 18A license—this due in part to complaints by such notable Canadian filmmakers as Atom Egoyan and Denys Arcand. In Quebec, the film was considered to be a moderate success for an independent release, taking in approximately $CDN 250,000 in the first two months of its run. It did, however, provoke a violent reaction from one Montreal moviegoer, who broke into the projection booth and stole the print, ending the screening.[2]

In the United Kingdom, the film was released with an 18 certificate for its 2001 cinema release after ten seconds of cuts. The cut was to a scene that showed a close-up shot of a penis entering a vagina during a rape scene that the Board ruled eroticised sexual assault.[3] The film received an 18 certificate on video in 2002 after a further twelve seconds of cuts to a scene showing a gun being pressed into a man's anus prior to being fired.[4] Even with these cuts, the film represents a watershed in what content is allowed at the 18 rating—films with the R18 higher rating can only be sold in licensed sex shops. The film was one of the very first to show an erect penis, and the first to combine it with scenes of violence. London Underground banned the display of the film's advertising poster because of fears that its title would offend French-speakers using its network.

In the United States, the film was marketed under the names Kiss Me and Rape Me and released without a classification from the Motion Picture Association of America. It screened only at a small number of cinemas (almost all of them in arthouse cinemas in the major cities). The film took just $70,000 in receipts from its American release and there was a marked lack of controversy as compared to other countries.

The movie also performed quite poorly in Germany. Although it was released in its unedited version it didn't cause much of a controversy in the media. It received an R18 rating in cinemas in New Zealand, and was banned from video release there, following an injunction filed by the Society for the Promotion of Community Standards.[5] The film was banned completely in Ireland, although it was shown in arthouse club cinemas which can screen unclassified films.

Two minutes and 35 seconds of cuts were required before the film received a certificate in Hong Kong.

Although the film's release in Bulgaria was otherwise uncontroversial, the television programme Господари на ефира conducted an experiment in which two 14-year-olds were sent to buy tickets for it. The teenagers successfully made the purchase and even entered the cinema, but left after the opening credits. Rather than discussing the film itself, the programme focused on the lack of control cinema owners and staff—as well as the authorities—exercised over minors visiting adult films in the country. The cinema in question later pulled the film off its schedule, following the report's first airing.

This film appeared in its original cut on public television in Finland.

In Mexico, the film was shown uncut in mainstream theaters, with a "C" (18+) rating, with a warning because of its sexual and violent content, but it did not attract much controversy in the media. It was also aired several times uncut on cable television.

See also

References

Bibliography

  • Baise-moi (English language edition) Virginie Despentes, translated by Bruce Benderson, Grove Press, ISBN 0-8021-3870-5
  • Baise-moi (French language edition) Virginie Despentes, ISBN 2-290-30879-X
  • Baise-moi, feminist cinemas and the censorship controversy Scott MacKenzie, 2002. Screen 43:3, Autumn 2002 - Reports and Debates.

External links