I remember when I was introduced to rape-revenge tales very, very vividly, almost twenty years ago. The film was Gaspar Noé’s Irréversible. It stars Vincent Cassel and Monica Bellucci, who were married in real life at the time, and it features one of the most disturbing rape scenes ever filmed. It’s an image that is burned into my brain forever – for better or worse. Most people could not stomach watching Bellucci get brutally beaten and raped in a single, nine-minute-long shot, and famously walked out of the theater in Cannes. In an equally unsettling scene, a man’s face is being bashed in blow-by-blow with a fire extinguisher. To me, it was a love story.
To mark the ten-year anniversary of her compelling book Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, that also discusses this drama, Australian film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (who is a member of AWFJ) has released a seriously revised, second edition, including an exciting new chapter on women-directed rape-revenge films before and after the #MeToo Era, including such new projects as Coralie Fargeat’s Revenge and Violation directed by Madeleine Sims-Fewer and Dusty Mancinelli. A lot has happened since 2011 and if the author sounds angry, she says, it’s because she is.
The first edition had Zoë Lund holding a .45 Magnum in Ms .45 on the cover. In Abel Ferrara’s glorious film Lund plays a mute, young woman named Thana, who saws her rapist into pieces and puts his body parts in the fridge, to then gun down every scumbag that crosses her way in the streets of New York. Every day she takes out another garbage bag, one by one, and deposits it somewhere in the city. Do I want so see a woman taking out rapist trash? Yes, please.
As controversial as this may sound these tales can be – if well done – very cathartic. Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE.
ABOUT MARIETTA STEINHART: Born and raised in Vienna, Marietta Steinhart is a New York City based film critic, contributing to Zeit Online, among other media, covering US cinema and TV. She’s an esteemed member of The International Federation of Film Critics and a frequent juror in Film Festivals.