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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 14.58%
Average: 4.17%
Pretty Bad56.25%
Total Crap: 12.5%

4 reviews, 24 user ratings

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Femme Fatale
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by Greg Muskewitz

"Mauvais rêves."
2 stars

The amusement that the opening sequence at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival fades away shortly thereafter, and any hope for coherency at the dénouement is fraudulently forged by making the movie all a bubble bath-induced prescient dream. (At the premiere of Régis Wargnier’s East/West, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos seduces his date, stripping her of the priceless diamond accessories that fail to conceal her breasts.) What is henceforward witnessed, after Romijn-Stamos double-crosses her team, is a mistaken identity: a raven-haired double of Romijn-Stamos commits suicide, and the slicked-back blonde takes over her identity and flees to the United States with a rich business man. Seven years later, she returns as the wife of the now-American diplomat, and her life once again becomes threatened when Antonio Banderas snaps her picture and her old partners aim to settle the score. (Apart from Banderas’ over-sympathetic reasoning to make good on his actions, his gay impressions can be taken as a humorous influence from Pedro Almodóvar.)

Brian De Palma keeps the possibilities of the plot flailing throughout; but as his jagged puzzle pieces fail to align over the course of progression, his neutrality and failure to commit to a definitive stream of thought leads to his cop out. Despite his inclusion of film noir requisites — chain-smoking, Venetian blinds, streaming light, the title’s call-to-arms of a femme fatale — he doesn’t mount high enough to clear his self-imposed target. The use, the resort to, the desperation of, “it was all a dream” is a weak, faint cry that suggests De Palma doesn’t know where to go from there. (Even the character chimes in with similar sentiments — “If there’s a snowball chance that I can avoid that again…”) There is too much plot left unsorted; why, after seven years, is Eriq Ebouaney still wearing the same bloodied dress-shirt? Something like that is possible in the dream realm: details clashing and blurring into one space and time. But for a detail that small to be included without any further foreshadowing of the result, it means one of two things. One, De Palma had intended for the dream plot to oust Romijn-Stamos from her poorly guided fate, all along. (Why then, was it the solo example of its kind?) Two, unsatisfied with the lackluster shape of his movie, De Palma added it as a last minute alleviation to rescind where the plot ended up, allotting for a tidier, less complicated ending. Overall, it appears as though the freedom in which De Palma provided himself was too much too handle; characters and developments merely disappear or are not returned to when they don’t work out. The menacing inspector drops out of the picture altogether after he is shoehorned in to create a needed threat, which is convenient since the awakening of the dream is set to follow. From a technical standpoint, one in which De Palma has long exhibited preference, Femme Fatale is a semi-successful combination of technique. His use of split-screens, revolving cameras, light, his mise-en-scène, they are all calculated for full-effect. But his hommage to the French is half-cocked at best; despite the visual appeal, the sexual appeal of Romijn-Stamos, her ability to produce a cogent French accent is sorely lacking. Therefore, the believability of how far she is able to get away, only further shatters the plausibility of De Palma’s whims.

With Rie Rasmussen, Peter Coyote and Sandrine Bonnaire.


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originally posted: 11/09/02 10:50:50
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User Comments

12/29/17 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
7/03/06 Dani Brilliant filmmaking. 5 stars
4/11/05 R.W. Welch Overly artsy technique bogs down story line. Just passable. 3 stars
11/21/04 Victor She's stunning, the scene where she gets ass fucked is perfect. 5 stars
8/09/04 Lucas awesome 5 stars
7/20/04 boo not that bad, but not as good as it could have been 4 stars
4/17/04 Michael Greenwaldt A HORRIBLE bore! I'm serious when I say I thought it had been on for 4 hours. Worst of 02'! 1 stars
1/13/04 John a nice opening squence followed by a contrived and far fetched plot 2 stars
11/08/03 Agent Sands (previously Mr. Hat) It wasn't at all what I expected, but it was great nonetheless. Lots of brilliant stuff. 4 stars
5/25/03 Jack Sommersby Too-stylish film make syou regret having given it the benefit of the doubt for too long. 2 stars
5/23/03 mr. Pink Some great sequences can't elavate this dissapointment to a good film. 3 stars
5/12/03 Jesse Widmark Really Bad screenplay/ annoying directing 1 stars
4/20/03 jay not as promising as it appears 4 stars
4/16/03 Orson Welles FF is a highly reflected neo noir, full of intertextuality and deeply embedded in the femme 4 stars
4/15/03 Tom Sucked, The dream crap just pisses me off 1 stars
4/10/03 Ingo There's far more than you see at first glance - highly recommended. 5 stars
2/16/03 qdorfman It's not a thriller for God's sake. Worth more than one viewing.. 5 stars
12/12/02 Natalie Stonecipher A piss-off within a bull-shit wrapped up inside a fuck-up! 1 stars
12/07/02 RB None 2 stars
11/25/02 1sexyb It was entertaining & fun to watch, and yes, rebecca is hot! 4 stars
11/19/02 jeff not a waste of time. Rebecca is amzingly good looking. 4 stars
11/14/02 Kelleigh oh-my-fucking-god...rebecca is amazingly arousing. Awesome movie. God Damn! 5 stars
11/09/02 Christiane Ley The T&A alone didn't justify the $6 I paid to sit through 2 hours of agony. 1 stars
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  06-Nov-2002 (R)



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