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

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.