Femme Fatale

"Good"

Femme Fatale Review


A soap-opera quality twist in the last 20 minutes of Brian De Palma's erotic noir thriller "Femme Fatale" almost puts the kibosh on what is otherwise a sumptuous work of B-movie imagination.

From its complex, spectacularly executed and near-silent opening-act heist -- in which a beautiful, sexy, icy-tough thief (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) lifts a diamond-encrusted, barely-there bustier off a director's arm-candy date at the Cannes Film Festival -- to the anti-heroine's later seduction and set-up of an unsuspecting Paris paparazzi (Antonio Banderas) for her own kidnapping, this picture is an engrossingly elaborate and stylish affair.

Romijn-Stamos gives a highly charged, chameleonic performance as Laure, an American con artist who is forced to disappear after the jewelry pinch goes bad and she double-crosses her partners in the crime. Mistaken, in a far-fetched coincidence, for a young widow (also played by Romijn-Stamos) who is suicidal over the deaths of her husband and daughter, she swipes her look-alike's passport, posses as a French girl and meets a multi-millionaire (Peter Coyote) on a flight to America.

Seven years later she's back in Paris as the rich man's wife when he's appointed as a U.S. ambassador, and all it takes is one photo of her in the tabloids before her old associates are out to kill her. Why the tabloids care about pictures of an ambassador's wife isn't clear, but Laure's plan for escape requires the unwitting collusion of the photographer who took said picture, and the poor guy has no idea what kind of sexual and psychological manipulation he's in for.

"Femme Fatale" is a gorgeous, stimulating brain- and libido-teaser complete with deliciously heady sex scenes, tangible but enigmatic symbolism (Is that really Laure's face that wisks by on advertising kiosks all over Paris? What does it mean?) and several surprises. It's also a slick and wildly imaginative cinematic experience, every bit as voluptuous as its leading lady. De Palma employs some of his favorite visual techniques (split screen, tracking shots, perspective shots, extreme slow-motion) with terrific, tension-mounting results, and Ryuichi Sakamoto's "Bolero"-like score lends the film a wonderfully moody opulence that is perfectly in sync with the succulent performances of its stars.

Former model Romijn-Stamos ("X-Men," "Rollerball") is a revelation in the title role, showing unexpected range as her savvy character adopts personalities and accents to suit several situations (not to mention her short but pivotal performance as the inconsolable widow). And although she towers over him, the star has real heat with Banderas, who is more enticing as the hapless (but certainly not helpless) photographer than he's been in anything since "The Mask of Zorro."

But just as De Palma crashed and burned after 45 minutes of near-genius in 1998's "Snake Eyes," the writer-director's Big Twist in this film rips so many holes in the plot that after all the cerebral stimulation, it may be hard to not feel let down by the finale. "Femme Fatale" retains a three-star rating from me, but only because up to that point it is so sensationally engrossing that it's still a must-see, even if the ending is ruined by such sheer hokum that it cuts the movie's intelligence quotient by half.



Femme Fatale

Facts and Figures

Run time: 114 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 6th November 2002

Box Office USA: $6.5M

Box Office Worldwide: $16.8M

Budget: $35M

Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures

Production compaines: Quinta Communications, Epsilon Motion Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 48%
Fresh: 64 Rotten: 70

IMDB: 6.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Laure/lily, as Nicolas Bardo, as Watts, as Veronica, as Shiff, as Black Tie, as Racine, as Serra, Fiona Curzon as Stanfield Phillips, Daniel Milgram as Pierre, Jean-Marc Minéo as Seated Guard, Salvatore Ingoglia as Truck Driver, Bart De Palma as Power Room Guard, as Herself, as Himself, as Himself, Jean Chatel as Cannes Commentator, Eva Darlan as Irma

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Imperium Movie Review

Imperium Movie Review

First-time filmmaker Daniel Ragussis takes an unusual approach to this thriller. Since it's based on...

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

The Girl With All the Gifts Movie Review

Like a 10-years-later follow-up to 28 Days Later, this small British thriller takes a refreshingly...

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

The Magnificent Seven Movie Review

Director Antoine Fuqua brings his usual fascination with violence to this remake of the iconic...

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

Bridget Jones's Baby Movie Review

As it's been 12 years since the last Bridget Jones movie, expectations aren't too high...

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week - The Touring Years Movie Review

A-list director Ron Howard worked with the surviving Beatles to assemble this engaging documentary, which...

Blair Witch Movie Review

Blair Witch Movie Review

It's been 17 years since The Blair Witch Project shook up the cinema and created...

Anthropoid Movie Review

Anthropoid Movie Review

Outside the Czech Republic, few people know about Operation Anthropoid, a spy mission in 1943...

Advertisement
Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

Kubo and the Two Strings Movie Review

From Laika (The Boxtrolls), this is one of the most beautiful, sophisticated animated films in...

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

Captain Fantastic Movie Review

An offbeat comedy-drama with a timely kick, this charming family road trip takes on some...

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Hell or High Water Movie Review

Sicario screenwriter Taylor Sheridan delivers another fiercely intelligent, engaging story that maintains high suspense while...

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

The 9th Life of Louis Drax Movie Review

With heavy overtones of Hitchcockian mystery and intrigue, this stylish thriller is the enjoyably melodramatic...

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

Kickboxer: Vengeance Movie Review

The 1989 Muay Thai action movie Kickboxer starred a young Jean-Claude Van Damme, who pops...

Julieta Movie Review

Julieta Movie Review

Iconic Spanish filmmaker Pedro Almodovar is back with another powerfully complex female-centred drama, along the...

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

Popstar: Never Stop Never Stopping Movie Review

An astute satire of the pop music business, this raucous mock-documentary is consistently hilarious from...

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.