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Bruce La Bruce's wild satire 'The Misandrists' wields radical feminism with a light touch

Bruce La Bruce's wild satire 'The Misandrists' wields radical feminism with a light touch
Susanne Sachsse in the movie "The Misandrists." (J.Jackie Baier / Cartilage Films)

Artist, filmmaker, writer and Queercore movement founding father Bruce La Bruce is back with an audacious new film, “The Misandrists,” which takes place among a radical lesbian separatist movement with a high femme bent.

The setting is 1999, “somewhere in Ger(wo)many,” at a school for girls run by Big Mother (Susanne Sachsse), who has collected a group of young lasses from various tragic situations to field her Female Liberation Army.

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They study science and radical gender theory and train for the coming “Day of Reckoning” and eventual “womancipation.” But until then, the plan is to shoot revolutionary, empowering girl-on-girl pornography as a statement that men are “surplus and redundant” and to keep the lights on. In an additional wrinkle, right out of “The Beguiled,” one of the girls, Isolde (Kita Updike) brings home a wounded anticapitalist vandal — a man! — and hides him in the basement while he convalesces. With secrets piling on secrets, they’re bound to spill out, and under Big Mother’s roof, the repercussions are extreme.

For a fiery queer polemic, using mythology to interrogate transgender liberation within a revolutionary feminist framework, “The Misandrists” is surprisingly breezy and light, with a cast of intriguing unknowns. Sachsse steals the show as Big Mother, a melodramatic, high camp heroine in a platinum blonde wig; she’s Joan Crawford meets Lady Gaga.

“The Misandrists” pays tribute to John Waters as well as Lizzie Borden’s 1983 feminist manifesto “Born in Flames” but utilizes pornography as its means of liberation. At times, it seems like a parody of itself but manages to beguile while it sermonizes.

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‘The Misandrists’

Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 25 minutes

Playing: Landmark Nuart, West L.A.

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