The Raspberry Reich

on September 24, 2004 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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Equal parts Jean-Luc Godard and John Waters with a healthy dollop of porn thrown into the mix, Bruce LaBruce's "The Raspberry Reich" audaciously tackles sexual politics and terrorist impulses, with decidedly flat results. Gudrun (Susanne Sachsse) is the head of a motley group of would-be German terrorists in thrall to the memory of the Baader Meinhof gang, which made its bloody mark on Germany in the 1970s. They're gone now, but Gudrun wants to revive their ‘revolutionary' spirit in these ‘bourgeois' times. She thus decides on two paths of action: the kidnapping of Patrick (Andreas Rupprecht), the son of a German industrialist, and, more significantly, the rejection of heterosexuality, which she declares to be the opiate of the masses. Forcing her male acolytes to have sex with each other, even as Patrick is snatched off the streets of Berlin, she hopes to precipitate a second terrorist revolution, which is not as easy as it sounds.

"The Raspberry Reich" certainly makes clear that Toronto filmmaker LaBruce can't be faulted for timidity. Like John Waters ("Pink Flamingoes") in his less respectable days, "The Raspberry Reich" offers up its own hermetically sealed world where bad taste, sex and violence commingle without any regard for viewer sensitivities. LaBruce also adds a lot of sloganeering, with all manner of Marxist screeds and declarations unscrolling onscreen or read aloud by the film's principals. What's unclear is whether LaBruce actually believes in his film's politics, which, in any case, comes across like a tired rehash of what Godard ("Weekend") or Rainer Werner Fassbinder ("The Third Generation") did so much better in the past. The film's satire, meanwhile, while amiable, is still blunted, hobbled as it is by obvious imagery (fellatio with a gun) and explicit sex scenes (of all persuasions) that are both unnecessary and clichéd. What remains is a moderately entertaining movie that nevertheless says nothing revolutionary about the way we live now. Starring Susanne Sachsse, Daniel Batscher and Andreas Rupprecht. Directed and written by Bruce LaBruce. Produced by Jurgen Bruning. A Strand release. Comedy. English- and German-language; subtitled. Unrated. Running time: 90 min

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