The revolution is biding it’s time, or at least that what Bruce LaBruce thinks. He begins his new movie The Misandrists by looking at a few young women. They are students, by the way, of a misandrist terrorist army camp masquerading as a convent somewhere in Ger(wo)many. Two students watch gay male porn for educational purposes. Meanwhile, another duo complain about their lack of options outside the camp. A separatist stronghold without men is nice. But living there obviously has its flaws.
Those flaws come out after a student finds someone in the garden who might disrupt her group’s plans. Isolde (Kita Updike) discovers Volker (Til Schneider), who was in a terrible physical state. He was also sputtering philosophical edicts instead of talking like a real human being. Men are morally repulsive to Isolde. Despite that, she takes him in anyway and hides him in the basement where nobody goes.
This is all fine until The Misandrists introduces other elements and characters. The woman in charge of the camp, Big Mother (Susanne Sachsse). She wants the students to be physically ready for the revolution despite being unable to walk. The film uses her different abilities to show how much of a hypocrite she is. She places standards on her students that are different from her own. There are better ways than this to write characters who have different abilities.
There are more groups that the film tries to offend here, as each character becomes a token within the feminist umbrella. There’s a scene where Big Mother reluctantly has to introduce both the convent’s teachers and students. And in doing so, he manages to make a mockery of the way women educate each other. He presents the lofty subjects that the Sisters teach as impractical ones. Ones that only teach the revolution in a hollow sense.
The film isn’t always targeting members of the feminist army for the flaws of the communities they represent. It also paints the whole army itself in stereotypical brushes. Not only does LaBruce film group scenes painfully. He also splits them up again and show how gossipy they are against each other. Women are gossipy, how insightful. They’re also smoking against Big Mother’s wishes, an attempt to show how rebellious women even when they make rules for themselves.
And while The Misandrists isn’t making fun of women as a whole or individually, it puts them in awkward sex scenes. In this film and earlier ones like LA Zombie, LaBruce has always posited that sex is a revolutionary act, which is valid in other contexts but not here. As a cis man, he’s also the last person to be filming lesbian sex scenes or commenting on the flaws of women. And the film’s multiple plot points don’t wrap up into anything substantial.