Raindance Film Festival: The Misandrists

The Misandrists
The Misandrists
Directed by Bruce LaBruce
Starring Susanne Sachsse, Viva Ruiz, Kembra Pfahler, Caprice Crawford and Grete Gehrke
Screening at Raindance September 23rd, 26th, 2017

by Lewis Church

Bruce LaBruce, the Queercore pioneer of art-movie porn and porny art movies, directs this latest fantasy of heteronormative obliteration. It’s a follow-up of sorts to The Raspberry Reich from 2005, and tied through a subtle flashback to the simultaneously premiered short Ulrike’s Brain. All three films deal with a legacy of leftist sedition, particularly the Red Army Faction of Germany where The Misandrists drama plays out. Built on a highly-stylised narrative documenting the efforts of a band of lesbian-separatist insurrectionaries, it lands tonally somewhere between Russ Meyer and a hardcore Wes Anderson, with graphic sex, surgery and the deliberately stilted delivery of political theory.

Susanne Sachsse leads the faction as Big Mother, commanding the wayward occupants of her convent-cum-school in a hatred of men and the patriarchy, encouraging them to love each other freely and produce their own porn to fund their forthcoming terrorist campaign. Big Mother seems to ventriloquize LaBruce when she declares that ‘porn is an insurrection against the established order’, and the frequent sex scenes continually undercut titillation with militant provocation. The cast is strong and peppered with cult icons (including Kembra Pfahler and Viva Ruiz), showcased best in a hilarious line-up scene that encapsulates the delicate balance between earnestness and irony at the heart of the film.

Perhaps oddly for a film featuring the forced amputation of a penis, there is immense charm amidst the provocation of LaBruce’s feminist extremists, an innocence as gender is questioned and sex dreamily examined. The largely no-budget free filmmaking of La Bruce is alluring and provocative, and The Misandrists delivers on its promise of a sexually explicit revolution.

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