A couple of murderous outsiders hook up on a killing spree. Before the final credits roll, they've done away with a woman at a cash till, various blokes they bed, and anyone who happens to get in their way.
When asked what he was rebelling against in The Wild One (1954), Brando answered, "What've you got?" Almost 50 years on, the theme of teenagers kicking against the system remains as potent as ever. But unless there's a motive for the mayhem, it simply becomes mindless - and this is pretty much the problem with Baise-Moi.
"Rape Me", "Screw Me" and "Fuck Me" have all been suggested as English translations of the title, but none of them carries the nihilistic anger of the original. This is primarily a film about fury. Yet its sheer amorality and reckless exploitation corrupts its message by misdirecting the focus. It arrives here having been pulled from French cinema screens within just three days of its release after protests were made about its graphic depiction of sex and violence. In their wisdom, the censors here have removed an explicit seven-second shot from the rape sequence. But, that part aside, they have allowed the film to be released in its grungy, sordid, digital-videoed entirety, presumably with the thinking that potential psychos are allergic to subtitles.
Doubtless the mock-scandalised media will hungrily feast upon the film's content and the fact that it has been written and directed by two women (indeed, it's based on ex-prostitute Despentes' bestselling novel) and features a couple of porn stars. However, this emphasis on the gyrating and bloodletting allows the filmmakers to escape without explaining their motives. Had this Gallic Thelma And Louise been out for revenge against men following their rape, there would have been a purpose to their slaughter. But they don't just kill men, nor do they only kill men who've bedded them. So what is Despentes and Trinh Thi's agenda? Apparently, the impetus behind this "feminist warrior vision" was to be "so in your face that we will end up on your mind". So now you know.
Despite courageous performances and some bravura direction, this is a grisly proposition.