Summer. The German countryside. Young women in school uniforms, playing tag in the field. The Misandrists (2017) opens on an idyllic landscape where an intimate kiss between two convent schoolgirls sets the scene.
Make love furiously and femininely
Despite expectations of hidden lesbian love in a catholic system, this convent calls itself “The Female Liberation Army” (FLA) and encourages women to live and love amongst their own kind. It not only encourages them but demands them to. Men are considered as bad and filthy as a stray dog. Even touching them makes the girls’ skin crawl. (This is even reflected linguistically in a radical generic feminine when “Amen” becomes “A-wo-men” or “godless” becomes “godessless”)
Yet on that one day in the field, the two young women Isolde and Hilde find precisely what they are so afraid of. The stray dog is a wounded young man who hides in the woods and finds help within the matriarchal walls of the convent. The convent girls hide and nurse him in the basement, and Isolde gradually finds forbidden interest in the young man. While the police is on the look out for a fiscal burglar with a leg wound, Isolde and Hilde keep the criminal hidden from the convent as well as the authorities. And there’s yet another secret Isolde keeps from her sisters.
My two cents
The Misandrists (2017) is a hilarious piece of trash that despite its humorous character deals with pending issues of modern societies. While the “radical feminists” draft a somewhat alternative utopia with their propagandist (wo)manifesto, there are still issues to be resolved and identities to be negotiated within their believes.
In the climax of the movie the question of what it means to be female inevitably arises. Is it about an underlying identity of your mind and soul or just the lack of a penis? Where are the boundaries between male and female and to whom are they important? Moreover, how can existing power-relations be used to reverse oppression (as their plan is to use lesbian porn to get their message through to the masses)?
Next to short slapstick scenes, silly acting (i.e. “German” accents) and candy-cotton-slow-mo pillow fights, the most hilarious moments are connected to quotes from the FLA’s pamphlets. Also, much of the humor happens in the background, such as the oversized mugshot of Emma Goldman in Big Mother’s bedroom, which also underlines the political believes of the convent.
“Down, down, down. Down with the patriarchy.” Damn, that tune is still stuck in my head. I hope it never goes away.
Highlights: Director Bruce LaBruce, Starring Kempra Pfahler, linguistic generic feminine (Ger-WO-many), gay porn as study subject, (qualifies as anything horror only because of some gory moments I don’t want to spoil)