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View Date: November 8th, 2002

Rating: ($$ out of $$$$$)


Rebecca Romijn-Stamos Laure Ash
Antonio Banderas Nicolas Bardo
Peter Coyote Bruce Watts
Eriq Ebouaney Black Tie
Edouard Montoute Racine
Rie Rasmussen Veronica

Written and Directed by:
Brian De Palma

Related Viewings
Sliding Doors (1998)
Last Seduction, The (1994)
Body Double (1984)
Double Indemnity (1944)

Official Site:
Femme Fatale-The Movie

Cast information and links courtesy of logo.gif (2059 bytes)

Go To Reel Rambling Page



Femme Fatale

There probably isnít a court in the land that would deny John Dahlís case of plagiarism against Brian DePalma.  In Femme Fatale, DePalma has apparently run out of original ideas.  After stealing from Hitchcock in the dreadful Snake Eyes, DePalma thieves from Hitchcock yet again, Sliding Doors, the TV show Dallas, and even rehashes his own by borrowing shamelessly from Body Double.  The result is a simplistic film which starts promisingly enough, but once the action subsides and the dialogue takes over, the film loses it.  I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for something more complex or deep to happen.   Then when it attempts to, it comes across as forced at best and definitely the act of a desperate film maker.

The story begins with such promise and intrigue. The opening half hour or so features an extended theft sequence at the Cannes Film Festival involving precious diamonds, precious models and the typical band of thieves.  This works because DePalmaís skill at camera work and generating a genuinely tense atmosphere with the lens.  There is very little dialogue throughout this scene, Iíd say maybe 100 words at best, and it encompasses the first 30-40 minutes of the film.  I was interested and curious as to where the story would go, and hopeful that it would maintain this style and pace.  Unfortunately, it didnít.  One of the thieves decides to double cross her partners and takes off with the jewels, so the partners vow revenge.  This where the wheels begin to come off.  For the sake of the storytellers vision, I will not reveal what transpires next, but I will say it involves a suicide, a congressman, a paparazzi photographer and one of the most pointless, unnecessary and blatantly stolen twists in recent film history.  I guess it is ironic that a film that starts with a theft, proceeds to steal the remainder of its ideas and turns.  I do have a feeling that the dialogue and some of the sequences were intentionally tongue-in-cheek tacky and bad, but this does not forgive the train wreck of story progression, and the ultimate disaster that results when the dust settles.  I am really getting tired of films feeling they need to pull the rug out from under us, just because they can.  I can see it when it fits the story (Primal Fear, Sixth Sense, Usual Suspects) but in the case of Femme Fatale, it seems to exist to wake up the audience from the formulaic doldrums that the unoriginal ideas have lulled us into.  Basically, I remember this film when it was much better, and when it was called The Last Seduction.  See that one, avoid this one

Ultimately, Femme Fatale is a wasted effort that succeeds at what it tries, but fails when it strays away.  Stories about fate, about the lengths one will go to, to get what they want, are not uncommon.  DePalma tries to weave this moral into a sly, vengeful female empowerment thriller, but instead turns things inside out and tries to hide it with some fancy camera tricks.  As in his previous efforts, the cinematography is great, but as his later efforts are showing, his story telling abilities are slipping.  What seems to be building towards something explosive only fizzles into something silly.  There is an impending sense that thereís more going on here than there actually is.  Donít read more into this film than it deserves.  It is a nice attempt to twist on a genre, but Dahl did it before and much much better.

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