VideoVista
-MONTHLY VHS & DVD REVIEW-


 Join our email list for chat about movies
 - send a blank message to CineMania

SF, fantasy, horror, mystery website
illustrated SF and general satire
action movie heroines
helicopters in movies and TV
VideoVista is published by PIGASUS Press

copyright © 2001 - 2004 VideoVista


Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as Laure


Bardo (Antonio Banderas) meets Lily/Laure
 
 
January 2004 SITE MAP   SEARCH

Femme Fatale
cast: Antonio Banderas, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Peter Coyote, Gregg Henry, and Eriq Ebouaney

writer and director: Brian De Palma

114 minutes (R) 2002
widescreen ratio 2.35:1
Warner NTSC DVD Region 1 retail

RATING: 7/10
reviewed by Ian Shutter
SPOILER ALERT!
Ever the Hitchcockian stylist, De Palma's skilfully constructed European thriller of deception, revenge and mistaken identity evokes the Master's unique brand of mystery narrative and innovative movie exposition. With chillingly suspenseful moments of alluring sexuality and simmering violence, obsessive attention to intriguing details, and expert handling of visual design and editorial techniques, here's another endlessly fascinating piece of cinematic wizardry that's boiling over with impressive trickery, audacious revelations, and a vivid sense of sheer exhilaration worthy of Dario Argento's best work.
   Femme Fatale stars Rebecca Romijn-Stamos as bad girl Laure, and kicks off with a sophisticated heist sequence at the Cannes film festival, where the plan by a gang of diamond thieves to steal body jewellery from a supermodel known only as Veronica (Rie Rasmussen), goes horribly wrong and the shooting starts. Black Tie (Eriq Ebouaney) gets wounded and goes to prison, while sexy blonde Laure assumes the identity of suicidal runaway Lily and flees to the USA.
   Seven years on, luckless photojournalist and wannabe collagist Nicolas Bardo (Antonio Banderas) is hired for the paparazzi mission to get the first ever pictures of the reclusive wife of Bruce Watts (Peter Coyote) - the American ambassador to France, a job at which he succeeds despite interference from security agent, Shiff (Gregg Henry). Eventually, however, Bardo regrets his actions and tries to make amends, only to become embroiled in a fake kidnapping scheme to extort ransom from the moneyed Watts...
   De Palma's cinematic technique, such as it is, remains faultless. From startling camera angles to a variety of pastel and noir colour schemes, it's always arresting. Where Femme Fatale goes off the rails is with the scarcely adequate performance of Romijn-Stamos in dual roles. Far too much of this sensational and exploitative melodrama relies on the leading lady's acting talents (which, it must be said, are as scanty as her night scene's costumes), and no matter how often Laure/Lily tells Bardo (and, by implication, the audience) that's she's thoroughly wicked, there's just no hope of convincing anyone familiar with numerous other examples of the archetypal film noir female of the title that Rebecca fits the bill. Alongside the bold Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct or ultra bitchy Linda Fiorentino in The Last Seduction, poor Romijn-Stamos is unfortunately lacking in both spirit and polish. Although she looks absolutely stunning and does make a great supporting player as blue-skinned Mystique in the X-Men films, Romijn-Stamos simply hasn't got the expressive depth or the ballsy attitude to carry a movie such as this.
   Happily, the director's thematic and contextual references to his own back catalogue - Mission: Impossible (1996), Body Double (1984), and especially Blow Out (1981), itself inspired by Antonioni's Blow Up (1966) - are not particularly intrusive or too self-indulgent, instead seeming less a straightforward repetition of earlier works and more like a tolerable auteur signature. As with De Palma's most successful productions, Femme Fatale is more concerned with provocation and emotional resonance than with logic or plausible story development - hence the premonitory 'dream' sequence taking up so much of this film's running time.
   The Region One DVD release (rumoured to have been on sale in UK shops, for a while) has a choice of English or French sound in Dolby digital 5.1 plus subtitles in English, French and Spanish. Disc extras: three behind-the-scenes featurettes, Dressed To Kill montage, and two trailers.
NEXT

Did you find this review helpful? Any comments are always welcome!
Please support VideoVista, buy stuff online using these links - Amazon.co.uk  Amazon.com  Blackstar  HK Flix

copyright © 2001 - 2004 VideoVista