Review: ‘The Misandrists’

dfn-the-misandrists-poster-300In The Misandrists, Bruce LaBruce’s lesbian comedy of body mutilation and sexual revolution, one of his characters tries to calm another by saying, “I thought you liked the idea of living in a separatist stronghold.”

It’s a line delivered with as much gusto as a camp line-reading from inexperienced actors in a triple-X feature, which is probably the point since LaBruce himself is a stalwart of Queer Cinema dating back to the early 90’s. Just check his Letterboxd for more info. That’s all I’ll say about that.

Probably as mainstream as a LaBruce film will get, The Misandrists still features enough snippets of homosexual pornography and extracts of found-footage surgeries to make less adventurous viewers run screaming for the hills. For those brave enough to stay, one just might get an energetic dose of punk rock aesthetic buried within a sardonic middle finger to everything from bourgeoisie lifestyle to inhibited sexuality.

The inhibited sexuality is something a majority of the film’s female characters are fighting against. Cloistered away in a large convent somewhere in Ger(wo)many, which is just one of the many female in-joke inversions LaBruce toys with as a pox on masculinity, live eight young women. Dressed in schoolgirl attire, complete with knee-high socks and (at times) pig tails, the women are being trained by Big Sister (Susanne Sachbe) to abhor everything male and embrace the goddess of femininity, which includes free love sessions and deep research by two of the girls to watch gay porn in order to undertake their own art-porn film that will revolutionize the world, once they decide to take control.

This seemingly estrogen-laced society comes crashing down, though, when student Isolde (Kita Updike) chooses to hide a wounded, on-the-lam criminal in the basement. Of course, this criminal is male and, of course, Isolde begins to fall for him, despite the pleadings of girlfriend Hilde (Olivia Kundisch) that her choice is a very bad idea.

Bouncing between campy lesbian dynamics in which every girl and older teacher in the convent essentially wants to or has slept with each other and nihilistic rantings of amateur terrorism, The Misandrists plays like a sexed-up Rainer Werner Fassbinder film blended with the bare stylistics of a student porno effort. I know this probably sounds utterly horrible, but there’s a loopy and almost sadistic charm to LaBruce’s all-out assault on good taste and safe conventions. I don’t know if I can recommend it, but it’s certainly a film that won’t easily leave your mind once you decide to take the plunge. And honestly, these days, with the way the world is headed, I wouldn’t mind living in a separatist stronghold myself.

The Misandrists opens in the Dallas/Fort Worth area on Friday, June 15 at the Inwood Theater.