The Misandrists film reviewYear: 2018
Director(s): Bruce LaBruce
Writer(s): Bruce LaBruce
Region of Origin: Germany

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Rating: n/a
Digital, Color, 91 mins

Synopsis: The member of a feminist army secretly gives shelter to an injured leftist. (Source)

The Misandrists is timely and artful rebellion, connecting a right hook that hits hard. True to form, director Bruce LaBruce has created something that doesn’t neatly fit in a box, but rather steps to its own rhythm and dares us to keep up. Part feminist satire, all around deviant romp, LaBruce’s film is as salacious as it is sobering, twisting both patriarchal and matriarchal ideals to the extreme and rendering a world where we’re one step from total oblivion. With its flourishes of hardcore porn, an ensemble that’s irresistible and an energy that leaps off the screen, LaBruce’s film is urgent and dangerous. It’s also oddly affecting in the most unexpected of ways.

The film kicks off as two girls, Isolde (Kita Updike) and Hilde (Olivia Kundisch) frolic and flirt in an open field. Things are suddenly interrupted when an injured anticapitalist rebel named Volker (Til Schindler) stumbles their way. Bleeding out and spewing an incoherent manifesto, he pleads for help. As it turns out, Isolde and Hilde are part of a would-be feminist terrorist cell named the Female Liberation Army. Their entire mission consists of ridding the world of men, so helping Volker would go against everything they stand for. And yet, Isolde finds herself drawn to helping this man, much to Hilde’s reluctance. Isolde eventually hides Volker in the FLA’s basement, sneaking visits to him as they strike an unexpected bond. Under the tutelage of the FLA’s head mistress, Big Mother (Susanne Sachsse), the girls continue to hatch plans of dominance over their inferior male counterparts. Isolde’s secret, and a few others, however, threaten to tear the tight knit community apart.

Playing fast and loose, LaBruce’s incendiary film plays out like a series of vignettes, rather than a connected narrative. Though there are definite through lines, the fun comes from having each characters’ ideals and perceptions challenged by one other. The laughs flow fast, and the free love even faster, as LaBruce indoctrinates us into the girls’ staunch way of life, and the unsaid revelations that come to light. Amidst the spiraling chaos, LaBruce throws everything at us from pillow fights, zippy one-liners and a diverse set of women, all of whom are vulnerable towards each other yet fierce in the face of the world set outside their separatist walls. Capturing pretty much every kind of woman, LaBruce presents Isolde at a crossroads, herself a trans woman struggling with acceptance, ostracization and self-perceived inadequacy. There are some fascinating lines that get drawn in the sand, but in the end, an empowering (even if absurdist) portrait of female dominance and unity forms.

The Misandrists reviewThough some characters get the more play than others, this really is an ensemble piece. Every actor gets a chance to shine, and no one feels superfluous or redundant. Kita Updike’s Isolde anchors the entire thing. As both our entry point and the story’s pivot, Updike gets the most range, playing things with a slightly heightened slant, while also carrying a lot of the emotional and psychological depth. Olivia Kundisch’s Hilde is a loyal yet tormented soul, bringing out a lot of the film’s conflict, while Serenity Rosa’s Ursula and Sam Dye’s Antje are a smartly matched duo of budding pornographers. Susanne Sachsse’s Big Mother lives up to her name, upholding the girls to a high standard while seething tongue-and-cheek ferocity. There are too many others to list, but rest assured, everyone brings it.

To say that The Misandrists is an overwhelming experience is putting it lightly. There’s a lot going on at any given moment, but LaBruce’s efforts cohere into a cacophony of punk rock feminist ethos and nightmarish social upheaval. Though LaBruce gives his characters a voice, he also doesn’t shy from the idea that an unbalanced social order is only a detriment to all. Still, as a cheeky, empowering of the feminine persuasion, the film is a real knockout. After decades of objectification and casual abuse, The Misandrists is a witty, sex positive caper that resets the scales and allows its women to run wild.