In an attempt to bounce back from mediocre midnight madness with The Visitor, Drafthouse Films returns with another remastered cut of a cult movie. Maybe the third time will be the charm for these cinema aficionados who are desperate to shed light on obscurity.
In the meantime, we have this re-release of Abel Ferrara’s robotic Ms. 45. It’s grindhouse exploitation through and through, and maybe movie goers will get some sort of nostalgic enjoyment if they’re into that explosive genre. I admit I did for a bit.
The score is very snazzy and Ferrara loves a bellowing saxophone. I dare you to not bob your head to the tune that plays during the film’s climactic Halloween party.
The film is about a mute woman named Thana (played competently by Zoë Lund) who is quickly pushed past her breaking point when she’s sexually assaulted twice in one day. After “taking care” of the second rapist, she keeps his gun, and embarks on a vengeful spree – wiping out any male dirtbags that try any tricks.
Ferrara doesn’t map Thana’s mission out as a story with heavy feminist overtones. The audience understands that she’s doing this for herself, which is appreciative to someone who’s looking for adulterated escapist entertainment.
Ferrara overdoes it on villainous representations. By portraying men as crooked sleazeballs with rape and/or violence always on the mind, the baddies are never more menacing than an average cartoon meanie tying damsels in distress to railroad tracks. Ms. 45 may not be heavy-handed but this ridiculous portrayal of men will make male movie goers think there’s something else going on with Ferrara’s film.
The evil may have been fearsome in 1981, but nowadays, it’s all so goofy as we watch the craziness. Perhaps this was where Drafthouse Films was hoping to resurrect rowdiness.
The character of Thana is intriguing at first. Her silence makes her out to be a blank slate with vague motivations that blur her between an innocent woman wanting to make ends meet and an off-kilter anti-hero who is oblivious to how much of a killer she’s becoming.
But, as the film becomes more of a broken record with Thana meeting a scumbag who does something strange leading to our lead female murdering the weirdo, audiences vie for more progressional development. There’s an idea that’s tossed aside that Thana may be generating a conscience while her hands become covered in more blood, but there’s not enough substantial material to go off on. So, Ferrara just gives the audience more emotionless violence.
I grew more disinterested with Ms. 45, and by the end I was shrugging my shoulders. It’s too bad because the film’s first few scenes lets the modern day audience know what type of movie they’re in for – I was game!
This re-release is just another killjoy that should’ve been a non-stop rollicking joyride.