With “Bottoms” and “Shiva Baby”, by Emma Seligman, a comic author is born

With “Bottoms” and “Shiva Baby”, by Emma Seligman, a comic author is born


Direct two comedies that really make you laugh, each on a different register, before reaching your thirties: fifteen years ago, Emma Seligman would have achieved the status of film author and found her place in the pantheon of Jewish humor American. But, after a triumphant tour of festivals, Shiva Baby (2020), his first feature film, a provocative and cruel family film, only had a brief career on the big screen after the Covid-19 pandemic. . Never distributed in France, it can be seen on the Mubi platform.

Its successor, Bottoms (2023), which we are discovering these days, offered by Prime Video (the film is released under the Orion label, a former subsidiary of MGM, the studio bought by Amazon), would also have deserved obscurity of the room and the smell of popcorn. This time, the filmmaker tackled the high school film, dynamiting – in the literal sense of the term, in certain sequences – the canons of the genre.

Let’s start at the bottom, then. Bottoms , a title with inexhaustible polysemy (the “bottom”, the “behind”, a “passive sexual role”…), depicts the efforts of PJ (Rachel Sennott) and Josie (Ayo Edebiri) to lose their virginity. Defined by their classmates as “ugly, talentless lesbians” , their goal seems all the more out of their reach as they have in their crosshairs two cheerleaders from the high school football team, Isabel (Havana Rose Liu) and Hazel (Ruby Cruz), about whom nothing says they are ready to renounce, even for a moment, heterosexuality.

The absurd and the burlesque

It is when choosing the method that Bottoms deliberately departs from his predecessors, including the most feminist films ( Mean Girls , by Mark Waters in 2004, Heathers , by Michael Lehmann in 1989…), by choosing the absurdity and burlesque. PJ and Josie decide to form a fight club under the pretext of women’s self-defense. The fights, with no other rule than inflicting as much damage as possible on the opponent, will allow them to enter into social and physical contact with the objects of their lust, all under the obtuse supervision of an education teacher. civics and history (former football player Marshawn Lynch).

Unlike the club founded by Brad Pitt and Edward Norton under the aegis of David Fincher in 1999, this one does not remain secret. His jubilant violence spreads throughout the school, and his fame competes with the footballers, just as they are preparing to face their most feared rivals.

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