Bruce LaBruce’s latest spirited provocation marks the cult director’s second literalization of the sexual revolution. Like 2004’s The Raspberry Reich, a satire of what LaBruce has called “terrorist chic,” The Misandrists soaks audiences in the doings (and I do mean doings) of a radical cell of sexual dissenters. In this case, the Female Liberation Army is a squad of young lesbians outfitted in schoolgirl uniforms and trained, at a German home for wayward girls, to love each other, to topple the patriarchy, to star in ethical pornography to fund the cause, and to never, ever, let a man into their enclave. Of course, as tends to happen in stories of feminist utopias, one naive young woman — Isolde, played by Kita Updike — discovers a man in need and brings him in, violating every tenet of her society. But this is no Wonder Woman. That dude will get laid, sure, but he’ll also eventually be on the receiving end of one of LaBruce’s signature jolts: explicit close-up surgical footage.
As always, LaBruce splices genre, spiking his parody with soft- and hardcore interludes, insert shots of actual insertion. The tone is deliberately, fascinatingly unmoored, listing from earnest melodrama (what will Isolde do with that man in the basement!) to jubilant exploitation (alone together, the young women pillow fight) to conspiracy thriller (the headmistress is definitely up to something) to goofy horror (that surgery!) to mock propaganda (an orgy is interrupted for an urgent communique) to dead-serious survey of the terrors that might actually turn these young women toward organized misandry. The performances, as per LaBruce’s other films, alternate between commandingly comic and touchingly stiff; the explicit or nude scenes play like collaborative celebrations of the cast rather than true exploitation.
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LaBruce has set this femme reverie in 1999, in the country of “Ger(