Thank the gay gods for Bruce LaBruce.
Queer filmmaker, actor, critic, and sometimes pornographer, Bruce La Bruce is known for his boundary pushing films that weave indie artistry and gay porn technique to dissect the themes of sexual exploration and rebellion against cultural norms, and The Misandrists is easily one of his best. The movie screens at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 12, as part of the Capitol Theatre's series of LGBTQ films for Pride Month.
The Misandrists is a biting Euro-trash satire about a lesbian terrorist organization called the Female Liberation Army, which hopes to dismantle the patriarchy using lesbian porn as their main weapon. It's low-budget and wildly fantastical, littered with camp, punk and feminism that is surely going to piss off anyone whose idea of "kink" is turning on the lights during sex.
Following the story of Big Mother (LaBruce regular Susanne Sachsse) and her convent for delinquent girls in the Ger(wo)man countryside, the film gives us students and teachers who are part of a conspiracy to build an army of lesbians and erase men from society. Things are interrupted when Isolde (Kita Updike) uncovers an anti-capitalist radical named Volker (Til Schindler) injured in the woods and decides to nurse him back to health by hiding him in the basement.
At the command of Big Mother, the girls are encouraged to freely express their sexual desires, leading to some hilariously sexy pillow fights and soft-core lesbian encounters. However, when Isolde's lover Hilde (Olivia Kundisch) tattles about the boy in the basement, this lesbian utopia turns into chaos.
Despite the film's focus on the hyper-sexual regime of Big Mother, The Misandrists is an extremely silly satire. LaBruce leans heavily into erotic imagery targeted toward women, which some will view as "exploitative." However, there's a hovering sense of reclaiming the objectifying power of schoolgirl uniforms, nun habits and pornography, despite acting best described as "passable."
The casting, however, is one of the film's biggest strengths. This isn't a queer film about conventionally pretty white girls who get a pixie cut and flannel to show how "gay" they are. This film is visibly and unapologetically queer from the first frame until the last. This is not an accessible queer film like Call Me By Your Name or Love, Simon. The Misandrists is an aggressive John Waters-esque satire that's absolutely unsafe for squares.