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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 Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

Brian De Palma's FEMME FATALE is an unusual and an erotic thriller that frequently sends viewers into nervous, awkward laughter since they don't know quite what to make of it. But, if you just kick back and relax, you'll find that it's great sleazy fun. It features a dress with a serpentine top made only of gold and diamonds. Just watching that dress in action is easily worth the price of admission.

The story's long opening sequence, which turns out to be the best part of the picture, revolves around a very elaborate robbery of the diamonds on the aforementioned dress. Certainly the most memorable part of this section is a lesbian love scene that surpasses the famous two from MULHOLLAND DR.

X-MEN's Rebecca Romijn-Stamos plays the film's lead character, Laure Ash, a cunning, daring and very sensuous criminal. Sexually, she's a switch hitter, and, in addition to her lesbian scene, she does a great striptease for one of her male partners. But she's no lover. She's more like a black widow spider who would be happy to kill those whom she beds.

The complicated story has Laure's fellow crooks trying to find her after she skips out with the diamonds that they stole. Peter Coyote plays a man who experiences every businessman's fantasy. A beautiful woman sits next to him on an airplane and then falls asleep on his shoulder. When she wakes, the fantasy continues.

Antonio Banderas plays Nicolas Bardo, a sexy, skillful but slightly doofus paparazzo who gets caught in Laure's web. Ryuichi Sakamoto's heavy-handed music feels like an amalgamation of the music from every old film noir that you've ever seen. The surprise is that this over-the-top approach to the scoring actually works quite well with De Palma's flamboyant direction. Assuming that you don't try to take the movie too seriously, the only major problem with it is its length -- it needs to have about fifteen minutes of slack trimmed.

Feel like a guilty pleasure that has a complex storyline? FEMME FATALE is just what you're looking for.

FEMME FATALE runs 1:50. The film is in English and in French with English subtitles. It is rated R for "strong sexuality, violence and language" and would be acceptable for older teenagers.

Copyright 2002 Steve Rhodes

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