Friday, June 09, 2006

Brian De Palma's Femme Fatale
Rated: R , Released: 2002

Amy Taubin (from the City Pages):
This intricately constructed, deliriously beautiful thriller from Brian De Palma--his best movie since Carrie--is a rogue-female empowerment fantasy as exhilarating as "The Company of Wolves" (the story, not the movie). Never read it? Sorry, but it's still slim pickings in the female-empowerment department, and I'm hard pressed for a more populist analogy. Conceived by De Palma in the wake of his disastrously received Mission to Mars, and shot in Paris with European financing, Femme Fatale is also an allegory about its own making--specifically about a filmmaker learning that you bring trouble on yourself when you try to be someone you're not. The title character is a double-crossing beauty (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) who's involved in a big heist: She runs off with the money and the jewels and, to avoid her pursuers, tries on a change of identity. In addition to being drop-dead gorgeous and admirably self-possessed, not to mention pulling off a striptease hot enough to make Rita Hayworth and Cyd Charisse seem like 1940s Campfire Girls, Romijn-Stamos channels Kim Novak in Vertigo with rare good humor. Femme Fatale is De Palma's first film in which the central female character is not a victim. And unlike the telekinetic heroine of Carrie, this femme fatale enjoys her power. The narrative has a surprise twist that I feel obliged not to give away: Suffice it to say that De Palma's skillfully subtle art-and-exploitation ballet snakes around like Ravel's Bolero and revels in déjà vu.

Jonathan Rosenbaum, from the Chicago Reader:
Try to imagine a synthesis of every previous Brian De Palma film; you'll come up with something not very different from his first made-in-France movie, a personal project for which he takes sole script credit. I enjoyed every minute of it, maybe because De Palma took such obvious pleasure in putting it all together. If you decide at the outset that this needn't have any recognizable relationship to the world we live in, you might even find it a delight. With Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Antonio Banderas, and Peter Coyote.

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