Thursday, October 21, 2010

Baise-Moi or The Killers Are Our Porn Stars









"I've thought about taking a jump or burning alive. Self-immolation is pretty pretentious. After we finish in the Vosges, let's do the jump without the bungee." -Manu



Successful examples of adult film stars crossing over into mainstream movies are rare. You're more likely to spot The Loch Ness Monster in a mainstream film (and Nessie would probably be more entertaining) than a porn star. There are several possible reasons for this lack of crossover:

1) Talent Vacuum - Adult film stars are notoriously bad actors. Whatever gene allows porn stars to have uninhibited sex on film also seems to prevent them from acting with any degree of believability. I could list all the bad performances I've seen, but it's just more expedient to say that there are only a select few adult star exceptions like Georgina Spelvin or Marilyn Chambers that have been able to actually sell a believable character on the big screen.

2) Drawing Power - Whatever popularity an adult star has gained in the porn genre just doesn't seem to translate to mainstream ticket sales. Using them as a selling point doesn't seem to work - Sasha Grey is arguably the most popular adult star working nowadays, but she didn't sell a lot of tickets for The Girlfriend Experience regardless of whether they were On Demand or theatrical. 

3) Studio blacklisting? - Since the 70's, there have been rumors of studio's blacklisting adult film stars in mainstream productions. Brian De Palma reportedly wanted to cast Annette Haven as the Holly Hollywood character in Body Double, but got C-blocked by the studio. And, as long as porn stars don't make the studios money (see #2 above), why would they want to cast them anyway?



It's June 1999 in Isla Vista, California. There's a local CD swap shop not too far from casa de Shiftless that I occasionally peruse for old VHS tapes. As luck would have it (or not), I find two Linda Blair videos that I pull the trigger on without even looking past her name in the credits. One film is a horror flick called The Chilling, the other is a thriller called A Woman Obsessed (aka Bad Blood). I popped in the latter film as soon as I got home, and was surprised to see none other than silky-voiced Randy Spears playing Blair's husband. He was going by a pseudonym, but it was Spears, and he was awful. It's not like the film could have been saved without him, but man was he bad. I vowed never to watch a mainstream film starring a porn star again. Two years later, I would break that vow, and be happy that I did.


Synopsis:
Two French women meet while on the run and embark on a sex and violence-filled rampage.

I'm not surprised that this film didn't get a lot of attention. Once I heard there were French porn stars playing the lead roles, I almost dismissed it myself. The thing that gave me pause was the fact that the film had been banned in France upon its release. "Banned in France" is not a term you often hear. A co-worker of mine who had actually lived in Paris, and still had family there, was absolutely floored when I told him about this. We both then became obsessed with seeing the movie.

The film is really an exploitation throwback, nothing more, nothing less. It is a revenge thriller, but with the two main characters, Nadine and Manu taking revenge on society in general for their crappy lives instead of any one individual. Karen (Lancaume) Bach and RaffaĆ«la Anderson play the chillingly sociopathic leads who are just as likely to have random sex with a man as they are to stomp him out of existence with their stolen high-heels. These aren't weak-kneed, sappily sentimental Thelma and Louise types; they're hard-partying, homicidal  maniacs without conscience. If you get in their way, too bad for you.



                       


The best thing about the film, without a doubt, is the acting by Lancaume and especially Anderson who does the lion's share of the emoting and is very scary as the short, cute and lethal Manu. The characters are well written enough to be believable, but not so overly detailed as to get in the way of the story or slow it down. The script also contains some darkly humorous moments as when Manu and Nadine debate whether to come up with a witty catchphrase before killing their victims. The film was shot mostly with a hand-held camera which really lends itself to the grittiness and immediacy of what's going on. As a result, there's not any stylization ala Natural Born Killers - it isn't needed. The story is quick (77 minutes), brutal, explicit, but surprisingly restrained. With explicit sex and graphic violence available to directors Virginie Despentes and Coralie, they really use them sparingly, in short but effective bursts, and rarely go over the top.





I can't imagine any exploitation fan disliking this movie, some may like it more than others. One thing is for certain, I'll never underestimate an adult film star again. I promise. Now, please don't hurt me. Final score:

8/10
Very cool - Lancaume became an almost overnight sensation in France due to her participation in the film.

Not so much - Anderson and Lancaume's real lives were just as tragic as their characters'.

WTF? - Did she shoot that sex club guy in the taint?!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting thoughts....
    I'll check this film out.

    ReplyDelete