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S E A R C H    D V D B e a v e r

(aka 'Rape Me')

 

directed by Virginie Despentes and Coralie
France 2000

 

Virginie Despentes' and Coralie Trinh Thi's adaptation of Despentes' 1995 novel arrived fresh on the heels for Catherine Breillat's ROMANCE (1999), and was quite a cause célèbre before (and because of) its banning shortly after release and subsequent protests that included the support of Breillat, Jean-Luc Godard, and Claire Denis among others (of course, just two years later Gaspar Noé would push boundaries even further with IRREVERSIBLE and then Breillat would stare into the abyss with ANATOMY OF HELL, based on her own novel "Pornocratie"). The story is simple: one day two marginalized women - prostitute Nadine (porn star Karen Bach) and occasional porn actress Manu (porn star Raffaëla Anderson) finally snap (Nadine murders her judgmental roommate Manu, who has just been gang-raped, shoots her unsympathetic brother). They meet up and take to the road, ostensibly towards the Vosges district for Nadine to deliver some fake IDs to a friend (a favor for an addict friend gunned down while trying to fill a prescription she forged for him) but - more obvious to fans of fatalistic French filmmaking - towards their own destruction (taking as many people as they can with them).

Thirteen years later, BAISE-MOI has lost much of its shock value, but the angry energy remains. Although there is a rape scene, the film isn't a rape-revenge film. Nothing about the film's subsequent fusions of hardcore sex and splattery death suggests a revenge for sexual exploitation - despite some taunts - of its two female characters (who the DVD's accompanying liner notes remind us are not only from the lower classes, but whose racial backgrounds also bring to mind France's past colonial exploits). What's so surprising retrospectively is how much this film at times looks like your standard low-budget crime spree road movie with male protagonists (particularly in the scenes of Nadine practicing poses with a laser-sighted gun). Despentes justified the use of hardcore sex scenes featuring the lead actresses as both a way to wrest female sexuality away from the male gaze (not so sure she succeeded considering that the film is better known for its hardcore sex scenes rather than its plot or even the non-sexual scenes of violence) and an attempt to do away with the fragmentation of female sexuality and the female body; that is, main characters not diminished in the audience's eyes by participation in graphic sex scenes, or reduced to their body parts by the use of body doubles, or even fragmented by the split between star/protagonist and supporting performer/secondary character to do the "dirty work" or the split between wife/girlfriend and mistress/prostitute. The attempt is admirable, but it all seems to have been lost amidst the excesses of "New French Extremity" which have moved from the sexual (MA MERE,
IRREVERSIBLE, DEMONLOVER, and the body-doubled ANATOMY OF HELL) to graphic gore (HIGH TENSION, INSIDE, etc).

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 28 June 2000 (France)

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DVD Review: Arrow Video - Region 2 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for the Review!

DVD Box Cover

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Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 2 - PAL

Runtime 1:13:45 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.59 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate

Audio French Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo
Subtitles English, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Arrow Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Making-of (4:3; 40:30)
• Q & A session with the directors/writers Coralie Trinh Thi and Virginie Despentes (4:3; 8:15)
• Theatrical Trailer (4:3; 1:18)
• Collector’s booklet featuring writing on the film by author Kier-la Janisse and 'The History of
• Baise-moi' by Virginie Despentes.
• Reversible Sleeve

DVD Release Date: March 25th, 2013
Amaray

Chapters 12

 

Comments

Pretty much a slam-dunk for Arrow Video's edition (significant for being the film's first uncut British release). It appears to be the only simultaneously anamorphic and English-friendly edition of the film. One can't expect much of the image quality since it was shot on digital video in natural lighting and transferred to film (presumably this is the same master used for the French Studio Canal DVD). The Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo track is stronger on gunshots and music than ambient effects (I suspect the only reason it was mixed in Dolby Stereo was for the punk music), and the optional English subtitles are error-free.

The video extras are carried over from the previous 2003 BBFC-cut DVD. The 40-minute making-of featurette frames the discussion of the book's and and film's origins within the a public demonstration over the banning of the film (with the directors, stars, and producer in attendance). In the English-language Q&A, the directors reject the film's English release title, discuss the co-directing relationship and the extensive planning needed for such a low budget shoot, the hardcore sex scenes, and the "friendship" between the two protagonists. The trailer also seems to date back from the original UK release.

A brand new extra is Arrow's 14-page booklet featuring a brief statement by author/co-director Despentes about how the film came into being, as well as her feelings on the protagonists and their actions. Kier-la Janisse also supplies an essay on the "confrontational pleasures" the film offers that also includes remarks by Despentes about the film's race and class issues. The reversible sleeve features the original poster artwork on the inside.

  - Eric Cotenas

 


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DVD Box Cover

CLICK to order from:

 

Distribution

Arrow Video

Region 2 - PAL

 




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