The Misandrists (2017)

The Misandrists
Director: Bruce La Bruce
Writer: Bruce La Bruce
Cast: Kita Updike, Victoire Laly, Olivia Kundisch, Lina Bembe, Til Schindler, Susanne Sachße, Viva Ruiz, Kembra Pfahler, Caprice Crawford, Grete Gehrke
Part of: /slash Filmfestival
Seen on: 6.5.2017
[Review by cornholio.]

Isolde (Kita Updike) and Hilde (Olivia Kundisch) are part of a radical feminist group that is plotting ways to take over the world. But first, the two stumble over Volker (Til Schindler) who is obviously in trouble with the law. Hilde is hesitant about what to do: men are the enemy, but so is the police. Isolde convinces her to bring Volker back with them and hide them in the basement of the school building that serves as the home of their group. Hide him not only from the police, but also from their own leaders, the Sisters.

The Misandrists is an interesting attempt in second wave feminism that doesn’t work in many and definitely problematic ways but at least it’s always interesting to watch.

I enjoy the way Bruce La Bruce makes films. For one, there is an irreverence there that makes him break through things that are considered standards in filmmaking (like good acting, for example) to show that you can make interesting, engaging stuff even when you don’t adhere to those conventions. Or maybe precisely because of it. (Even though No Skin Off My Ass proves that point better.)

I also generally love the idea of a film about radical feminist activists out to bend the world to their will. Every film could do with Emma Goldman (and other feminist activists) poster walls. That being said, I would have vastly preferred if the film had tackled a more modern form of feminism than the pure, distilled second wave feminism we got here.

Because that leads to all kinds of trouble. For one, there is no talk about shattering the gender binary (which would be so much more revolutionary than women subjugating men) and even more grievously, the film is seriously transmisic. The short version: transitioning is reduced to surgery and used as punishment. The long version: [SPOILERS] When Volker is discovered by the Sisters, he is forced to transition, surgery and all, to become part of their all-female group. Despite the fact that he never showed even the slightest indication of being trans, he is later shown as perfectly content to live as a woman – as if the material/bodily transition solves all psychological issues as well: once surgery is performed, this is it, nothing else is necessary. [/SPOILER] It’s the most blatant conflation of sex and gender I have seen in a very long while. [For an excellent thread on this, but in German, see here.]

Compared to that, it’s just a small fact that they take over the world through porn, as if sex was the only way women could accomplish anything.

Ultimately, to me, the issues outweighed the interesting touches La Bruce puts into his filmmaking (like the freeze frame/digital error that cuts through the film) and the general idea behind the film. I didn’t regret seeing it, but I would have prefered it to be different.

Summarizing: Interesting, but very much flawed and probably not worth it.

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