Controversial French film makes waves in Locarno

A scene from the controversial film, "Baise-moi", which created a stir with critics in Locarno, too. Filmfestival Locarno

The film "Baise-moi", which was rated "X" in France, went on air in Locarno on the third day of the film festival. The rating effectively barred from the film from cinema screens at home. A review by our festival correspondent, Markus Haefliger.

This content was published on August 4, 2000 minutes

Written by Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Tri, the liberal Parisian press had been outraged at the film's X rating earlier this summer. Critics had denounced the move as censorship, and likening the film to a feminist manifesto, or a French version of the American road movie, "Thelma and Louise".

But that would be giving the film too much credit. Artistically, the film had nothing to offer except possibly documenting the no-hope mentally of young dropouts.

The plot involves two protagonists, Nadine (played by Karen Bach) and Manu (Raffaella Anderson). One of them is brutally raped, she kills her tormentor, and then teams up with another angry, unhappy woman. The pair flee and on the way pass the time picking up men, having sex with them, robbing them and killing them.

However, where the film falls short is that it does not explore the relationship between Nadine and Manu, nor is the paradox of increasing despair and a growing sense of freedom that so distinguished "Thelma and Louise".

There's only violence, drugs, crude sex and a total lack of concern and sentiment. All against a backdrop of very loud music.

At a press conference on Friday, the directors of the film appeared pleased with the controversy caused, but were as crude as the film. They abused journalists and critics, and equated any criticism with censorship.

Despentes defended her film as feminist, but said that was so evident it needed no explanations.

"Two young women try to stay alive against all odds; of course that feminist! The fact that they're the victims of rape and keep their dignity, meaning that they take their lives into their own hands, that's feminist!" she said.

The bottom line with "Baise-moi" is that it may be feminist, but that does not make it either good or watchable.

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