Femme Fatale (2002), Runtime - 110mins, Cert 15.

Director - Brian De Palma.

Writer - Brian De Palma.

Starring - Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Antonio Banderas & Peter Coyote.

 

Premise - Laure (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) is a thief, her current job is to steal a diamond studded bra from a guest at the Cannes film festival that is worth $10million. When she double-crosses her fellow crooks she finds herself a wanted woman in France. So, she takes on the guise of a recent suicide victim and moves to the USA. Seven years later she returns to Paris due to her husband's (Peter Coyote) work. However, the people she screwed over for the diamonds are still looking for her.

Femme Fatale is headed for a straight-to-DVD release (remember when it used to be straight to video?) in the UK. This is of no surprise considering that the film tanked at the US box office and divided critics coast to coast. It would appear that Femme Fatale is a love it or hate it type of film, which is all the more strange because I neither loved it nor hated, I simply thought it was okay.

I can see both sides of the coin in respect to this film. On the one hand the film is a visual feast, the story is always intriguing inviting you to second guess itís every turn and Stamos is the very definition of cold, deadly, but alluring. On the other hand the dialogue is terrible, the acting is a joke and there are a few twists in the tail that leave you stunned by their bare faced cheek. We are talking the kind of twists that a cheesy soap opera might consider too much.

Director Brian De Palma has had a few turkeys of late, what with Mission to Mars and Snake Eyes. Femme Fatale is far from his best work, but his audacious and striking visual style is stamped all over the film. Long lingering takes, split screen, immense tracking shots, they are all here and all add up to a sumptuous looking film. Helped no end by the glorious backdrop of what appears to be Autumnal Paris, De Palma doesnít hold back here.

My favourite shot has to be one that starts off looking down from Antonio Banderasí apartment balcony to the man himself standing beside a motorcycle. The camera slowly pans to the right taking in his desk and his computer screen, before it finally settles on the entrance, just as Banderas enters. Banderas doesnít even look out of breath! Shots of this calibre litter the movie and if you are a fan of visual cinema then you will find much to enjoy here.

The story is a convoluted one and it takes a bit of effort to get your head round it in parts. The reason for the confusing nature of the story comes to light later in the film and when you replay events back in your mind everything does make perfect sense. That said the big twist is ridiculous no matter how well it is planned and built up. I actually laughed out loud during the big moment, not quite the reaction De Palma was going for Iím sure. I would however, like to watch the film again to try and take in all the clues leading up to the twist, as there are a lot that Iím sure Iíve missed.

Rebecca Romijn-Stamos is an actress that I have never really rated in the past. The best work I think she has done is as Mystique in the X-Men films where she is magnificent, a perfect bit of casting. Here she is fairly poor. Whilst she does convince as a cold ruthless bitch and a seductress (not much of a stretch there) her acting skills in some scenes are questionable. De Palma shoots her wonderfully though; rarely in film do you see a woman made to look as damn hot as Stamos does here. I nearly blew a gasket during the lesbian scene! ;-P

Opposite Stamos for most of the film is Antonio Banderas, an actor I donít really care for. I liked him in Desperado and I look forward to Once Upon a Time in Mexico, but I find his range limited. Here he is very poor, never convincing as anything other than Antonio Banderas in Paris. And how a man can end up having no chemistry with a woman as hot as Stamos is a mystery, but against all the odds he pulls it off.

It should also be said that the music was incredibly irritating. It almost sounds like a mixed up version of Bolero and is completely at odds with the feel of the film. Good film music either melts into the background or takes the visuals to another level. In Femme Fatale it just grates.

If you like a convoluted plot that drip feeds you clues then you may garner some enjoyment from Femme Fatale. Fans of visually arresting cinema will also appreciate the eye candy on offer, as will fans of hot chicks writhing around wearing very little clothing. The stumbling blocks for the film really are in the casting choices and in the terribly cheesy writing. Not a total waste of time, but far from the great film that De Palma needs to get his career back on track.

 

/10.

See Femme Fatale if you enjoyed Ė Double Indemnity, Mission: Impossible, Body Double.

Poster Quote Ė Fatal for De Palma?