Ms .45 ★★★½

[70]

Bears a shocking amount of fundamental similarity to DRILLER KILLER, which means either that film is a few missteps away from being great, or this film is a few missteps away from being mostly crap. (My gut feeling is the latter, honestly.) The key difference is that Ferrara sagely suspends his viscera in psychology and emotion instead of a vat of savage artistry and pointless gore. In other words, scare tactics rooted in things less materially “scary,” and more cognitively harrowing cf. rape and, by extension, the overwhelming feeling of powerlessness against at least half the world, against a mad lad drilling holes in people—one is inherently “scary,” but the other is truly, sensibly gutting. Guess which. Even more intriguing to me, though—and I’m not sure if this is be design or entirely accidental—is how this kind of presents itself ostensibly as an (almost obvious) portrait of female empowerment disguised as a utopic revenge fantasy. One badass chick goes hog-wild on a brigade of sooty gentlemen, annihilating the creeps and pigs and chauvinists of the grimy NYC underbelly, dumping hacked up body parts in trash cans and car trunks around town, seemingly invincible from capture despite the surmounting headlines and her overall lack of circumspection. But then one small but immensely important scene flips the narrative: Our heroine attempts to execute a young Asian boy who’s locking lips with his supposed girlfriend. She ultimately fails but looks visibly disappointed that he remains alive. (You could even posit that her subsequent encounter with a man who’s just been dumped - which, just two years later, includes a wonderful subversion of the most iconic shot of MANHATTAN - acts as further proof, but the subtext is more nebulous there.) Therein the film becomes not an advocate of feminism, but a critic: What happens when our morals and ideals are taken too far and become counterproductive? You could theoretically apply this hypothetical to any tenet or doctrine; why Ferrara chose feminism specifically, I can’t be certain. My assumption has more to do with surface texture than any kind of deep commentary on the state of woman’s rights, or at least that’s how the film parlays itself given that it presents a legitimate question of precept then fails to even flirt with an answer—final reluctancy and “sister!” caterwaul does little to assuage the peddling ambiguity. In any case, maybe people may (and do) find Ferrara’s sensibilities too brash to enjoy - his unapologetically frenzied style constantly threatening with enervation - but given the proper material, his unpolished traits, paradoxically, shine. Have a feeling a second viewing might bump up the score considerably.