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Femme Fatale

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4

*Also starring: Rie Rasmussen, Peter Coyote, Edouard Montoute, Eriq Ebouaney, Thierry Fremont

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

Sexy, statuesque Rebecca Romijn-Stamos goes the voyeuristic Sharon Stone "Basic Instinct" route in Brian De Palma's bizarre new thriller, playing Laura Ash, a bold, bisexual con woman. The intricate story begins with the theft of a $10 million solid-gold, diamond-encrusted serpent, wound around the breasts of a nearly-nude model (Rie Rasmussen), at the Cannes Film Festival. It's an edgy heist that goes awry, propelling Laura to flee to Paris where she's mistaken for a suicidal young mother named Lily whom she closely resembles. Eager for the convenient - if coincidental - new identity, she boards a flight to America, where she's seated next to a successful businessman (Peter Coyote) who falls in love with her. But, several years later, her idyllic anonymity is challenged when her husband is appointed U.S. ambassador to France. She's understandably camera-shy and elusive, but her image is captured by an enterprising tabloid photographer (Antonio Banderas) and recognized by her furious former cohorts-in-crime (Eriq Ebouaney, Edouard Montoute) who pursue her, vowing revenge. That's the basic plot but writer-director Brian De Palma delves into far-fetched, convoluted fantasy/reality twists reminiscent of "Mulholland Drive" and "Vanilla Sky," highlighted by Thierry Arbogast's clever camerawork and Ryuichi Sakamoto's score with Ravel's "Bolero." Rebecca Romijn-Stamos radiates adventurous, assertive American (she's supposed to be French) and her performance is strictly two-dimensional as is Antonio Banderas's. As a result, the audience never feels empathy for either. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Femme Fatale" is an intriguing, structurally unpredictable, visually stylish 6, tempting you to see it twice in order to spot the clues you missed the first time.

Copyright 2002 Susan Granger

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