8 1/2 Women

"OK"

8 1/2 Women Review


An idly rich father and son, trying to sidestep the grief brought on by the death of their wife and mother, become obsessed with acquiring a varied private harem to exorcise obscured erotic fantasies in eccentric, elitist director Peter Greenaway's sexual pseudo-satire "8 1/2 Women."

The Japan-based, 30-ish son (Matthew Delamere) comes home to his father's (John Standing) Geneva estate with two girls in tow: A taciturn kabuki actress and a pretty young gambler who has agreed to become his concubine to repay gambling debts owed the family's pachinko parlor.

Over the next few weeks they add several more wildly divergent women to their personal bordello -- a "retired" nun (Toni Collette) with a shaved head, a wannabe aristocrat (Amanda Plummer) recovering from a horse-riding accident in a bizarre body brace, an extremely fertile beauty (Barbara Sarafian) who makes a living as a surrogate mother -- but remain confounded, discontented and unfulfilled.

Designed as something of a tribute to Italian cinematic groundbreaker Federico Fellini, whose autobiographical dark comedy "8 1/2" serves as the inspiration for the men's fantasy, this picture is an inconsistent mix of offbeat moods and idiosyncratic sexual peccadilloes.

In true Greenaway style, "8 1/2 Women" takes place in a peculiarly open-minded world where people speak of sexuality like they're talking about the weather. Only in a Greenaway flick would a father and son stand naked in front of a full-length mirror discussing their -- err -- equipment, at length. It's a subject that keeps popping up (Ooo! Stop the puns!) throughout the film, too.

Also in Greenaway tradition, the movie is a visual feast, meticulously-composed in a way that every shot looks like a still life masterpiece with bodies moving through it.

But "8 1/2 Women" is not as harmonious as the director's better, deeper films like "The Pillow Book," and "The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover." The big void in the story is that the females have no character arc. Greenaway, far too busy being strange, makes little attempt to understand them, their personalities or their willingness to become kept women.

Most of them are, clearly, emotionally fractured in some vague way. But all of them might as well be props until the arrival of Polly Walker ("Emma") as the last -- and most self-possessed -- paramour, whose presence soon turns the tables on the men. Before long it's the women's fantasies and eccentricities being obliged by the father and son -- who become possessive, neurotic and jealous with the changing winds of sexual control.

Greenaway's films always require work to wrap your head around them. The problem with this one is that before that work can seem worth while you have to overcome the narcissism of the only two characters the director gives a fig about. I managed to do so, and after a while the film grew on me despite my reservations. But honestly, I'm at a loss to explain why.



Facts and Figures

Production compaines: Delux Productions, Kasander & Wigman Productions, Continent Film GmbH, Movie Masters, Woodline Productions

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Philip Emmenthal, as Storey Emmenthal, as Kito, Annie Yi as Simato, as Griselda

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.