By Gregg Shapiro
Photo: Jürgen Pruning Productions
With “The Misandrists” (Cartilage Films), gay filmmaker Bruce La Bruce moves away from the accessibility of 2013 “Gerontophilia” and returns to the graphic sexuality and violence of earlier films such as “L.A. Zombie” and “Otto; or, Up with Dead People”. “The Misandrists” is unmistakably a Bruce La Bruce movie; landing somewhere between Jeff Baena’s “The Little Hours” and “The Beguiled” (if it had been directed by John Waters instead of Sofia Coppola).
Set in 1999 at a girls’ school “somewhere in Ger(wo)many”, “The Misandrists” opens with classmates and comrades Isolde (trans actress Kita Updike) and Hilde (Olivia Kundisch), sharing affections and romping through a field on the campus grounds. Injured Volker (Til Schindler), a male thief on the run from the police, emerges from the woods and asks them for help. Breaking every imaginable rule, Isolde and Hilde sneak Volker onto the property and lock him away in the basement.
In another part of the building, two other female students are watching gay porn. It’s a combination of aversion therapy and training for the lesbian porn film they have been assigned to make in the separatist stronghold in which they live and receive training in the cause of Female Liberation under the guidance of Big Mother (Susanne Sachsse).
The Female Liberation Army, which grew out of lesbian love, plans to take men out of the equation altogether in the name of Womancipation. Big Mother’s young charges, “at the height of robustness and vitality for the task ahead”, all came to the “halfway house for troubled girls” for various reasons. Many were sexually abused, others dabbled in drugs and lives of crime. A couple of them have mysterious pasts, but before long we learn all that we need to know about them.
Even though Big Mother doesn’t approve of it, jealousy abounds on campus. This kind of tension results in a series of revelations, including secrets about gender identity, a spy in the house of love, and of course, the presence of a wounded man in the basement. Once Volker’s involuntary (and explicit) gender reassignment surgery is complete and the FLA’s lesbian orgy porn flick “Pornutopia” is complete, the revolution begins with a screening in a movie theater with an unwitting audience of hostages.
La Bruce doesn’t necessarily break any new ground here. The setting and even the story are worn out and tired. The presence of a trans character (and actor) does give the movie an immediate and timely feel, but it takes more than that to keep an audience in its seats.
Remember, Miss Andrist is not the name of a man-hating drag queen. Rating: C