Femme Fatale - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Femme Fatale Reviews

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Super Reviewer
½ December 9, 2009
It really feels like a lot of Brian De Palma‚??s early work, playing around with the Noir genre and fitting it into a modern caper/thriller. The visual style is beautiful, even more than usual due to the fact that it‚??s filmed in breathtaking areas in Cannes. The story is extremely fun and keeps you guessing along the way. The acting is decent, Rebecca Romijn clearly wasn‚??t that experienced at the time, but more of her work is visual anyway. I‚??m also not a huge fan of Antonio Banderas, but he was actually very good in this. While it‚??s not a perfect movie, it‚??s definitely worthwhile and a return to the past for De Palma.
Super Reviewer
December 2, 2009
Outstanding! The opening stole my attention already.
Super Reviewer
½ January 1, 2007
A pretty decent sultry thriller directed by Brian DePalma. A jewel thief tries to cover her past but a chance photo of her alerts the people she has crossed before. Enjoyable if not quite a classic but I do like the ending and Rebecca Romijn suits the role to a T before her success as Mystique in the X-Men series.
Clintus M.
Super Reviewer
March 19, 2009
I loved it! Rebecca is fantastic, breathtakingly beautiful and a fine actress too. Antonio Bandaras is great, although his comedic lines are too goofy. This is a story about all manner of trickery, typical of DePalma. His story line is as convoluted as ever (Snake Eyes, Body Double), but his fans expect this. In the disk's Special Features, I enjoyed the director's commentary. This delivers the sizzle, if not the substance.
Super Reviewer
August 17, 2008
"Femme Fatale" is best understood as a game played by Brian De Palma and appreciated by knowing cineastes. It's not about story or characters, but about the construction and manipulation of art.

Antonio Banderas plays Nicolas Bardo, a photographer who has turned his back on photographing celebrities. He now spends his time living in an apartment, making huge composite images by arranging tiny photographs. The Bardo character, in many ways, is Brian De Palma. At war with Hollywood storytelling (which is fuelled by celebrity) De Palma takes these multiple images and weaves them into a tapestry until a final image is made. The point is that the final image is not reality. It is the artists recreation and completely false.

At the end of the film, Bardo completes his masterpiece by inserting a little white figure (of Laura) onto his wall. The figure doesn't belong there, Bardo simply chooses to put it there. Thematically, "Femme Fatale" ends on the same note. Noir fatalism is thwarted by a completely arbitrary, totally ILLOGICAL and cosmically IMPOSSIBLE moment of editing whereby De Palma redeems his hero and kills off her opponents.

Critics call this sequence implausible. But De Palma's point is that it doesn't have to be plausible. Bardo puts the white figure on his wall because he wants to. Similarly, De Palma ends the film as he does, because he wants to. He shows us Laura's depressing noir dream and then rescues her from it. He makes it clear that he is redeeming her and willing this positive ending into existence solely because he as an artist (noir God), has the power to do so.

This flips the usual noir logic. If Kubrick's "The Killing" highlights the deterministic law of the universe (Clay's plan crumbling to pieces all because of a random poodle), De Palma's "Femme Fatale" highlights the power of the artist, able to do recreate a universe entirely devoid of cosmic law.

This theme is also highlighted by the use of the name "Bardo", a Tibetan word meaning "intermediate state". A state between life and death. Over the course of the film, Bardo will be caught between life and death, as De Palma toys with killing him. Bardo's existence or artistic merit is down to an artist's mere whim.

Everything else about De Palma is present in Femme Fatale: the voyeur and his object, the representation inside the representation, the original and its fake copy, the doubled characters, key episodes built from multiple points of views, the elaborate camera work.

Watch as De Palma's camera continuously misleads our eyes, giving the hidden predominance over the shown, until we are forced to separate in our minds the real from its representation and to connect the different pieces into a "sense".

This technique comprises the film watching experience as a whole, and is what De Palma's films are essentially about, from Jack Terry's reconstruction of a truth with the aid of montage in "Blow Out", to Santoro's investigations of a crime from partial testimonies in "Snake Eyes".

This theme, the division between reality and image, has grown increasingly important for De Palma. His last five movies ("Redacted", "Dahlia", "Mission Impossible", "Snake Eyes," and "Mission to Mars,") were all concerned with how we see and watch movies. He is obsessed with reminding us that information is not the same thing as knowledge.

"Snake Eyes" opened with an unbroken tracking shot that laid out the plot. The rest of the movie was a demonstration of why everything we had seen in that sequence was a lie. The opening sequence of "Mission: Impossible" showed us Tom Cruise's crew of agents being picked off one by one. We had already seen each of those murders, though, in nearly subliminal blips during the movie's credit sequence (information without knowledge). "Black Dahlia" and "Redacted" similarly deal with a search for truth amongst an image bank of lies.

"Femme Fatale" begins with a long heist sequence. Throughout this sequence, allusions are made to "Snake Eyes" (eg- the literal "serpent camera" and the object of the heist, a snake shaped piece of gold), De Palma effectively saying: "I'm lying to you. The camera is a snake and not to be trusted." Note the film "Est - Ouest" showing as the heist goes on. Another stream-of-consciousness film with an unreliable narrator.

The rest of "Femme Fatale" takes a "dream within a film" approach, (foreshadowed in opening shot). De Palma sets the dream sequence up with careful details: the storm, the clock (Time: 3:33), the water running, Laura sinking. Signs that would eventually emerge all the way through, emphasising the surreal atmosphere of Laura's adventure.

From here on, logic will be put aside as De Palma's mise-en-scene develops into pure form. Everything is disconnected, dialogue makes no sense (at some points it's dubbed without even following the actors' lips), time jumps back and forth etc.

During the dream, Laura will embody different female archetypes, all traceable in film history and particularly in De Palma's films. She's Kim Novak in "Vertigo" and also Melanie Griffith's prostitute of "Body Double" and so on and so on.

The majority of De Palma's films have dream sequences. Even a "serious" film like 'Casualties of War' ends with a character waking up on a train, realising that the whole film was a nightmare. Why does De Palma feel the need to insert this? My guess is that he doesn't want his films to be seen as "real". They exist in a wholly metaphysical space.

As usual with a De Palma film, critics and audiences rejected Femme Fatale. But this is a brilliant film, it's only flaw being an unimaginatively shot (by De Palma standards) heist sequence.
Super Reviewer
December 12, 2007
This is, without doubt, one of Brian De Palma's greatest achievements, an incredibly rich and playful movie which immeasurably rewards repeated viewings. Basically, you get out of it what you put in. If you've got your wits about you, an open mind and a keen pair of eyes, you're in for a treat. Beneath its ludicrous exterior there lurks as intelligent a film as you could wish to see, a film which, refreshingly, credits its audience with the ability to understand it without spoon-feeding. If you've been paying close enough attention, the controversial late twist triumphantly validates innumerable carefully laid glimpses of the truth; you ought to feel exhilarated rather than cheated, eager to hit the rewind button in search of further clues. In De Palma's enchanted world: fish-tanks mimic overflowing baths, advertising posters offer vital pointers, casually seen faces become woven into the story and time stands still. As a Parallel Universe thriller, it's smarter, wittier, more inventive and more skilfully told than "Run, Lola, Run" et al. Ironically, this masterpiece sank without a trace in the UK and is hard to locate on DVD.
Super Reviewer
October 25, 2007
What a piece of crap.
Super Reviewer
July 9, 2007
Another intricated cinephile masturbation by DePalma, though his virtuous and stylish mise-en-scene is always present. fun and sexy, especially for the soundtrack and Rebecca Romijn's presence.
Super Reviewer
July 2, 2007
One of the coolest openings ever...Hot Lesbian Cannes Heist action...
Super Reviewer
January 10, 2007
Starting out rather interestingly with a well-filmed heist scene, DePalma tries a little to hard to be the modern day Hitchcock afterwards. While beautifully shot and with a nice twist towards the end, the conclusion somehow made me wonder if this was DePalma's attempt on the power of coincidence, similar to Shyamalan's "Signs". Funnily enough, the aliens movie is more realistic in that aspect than the ending of this movie. At least Rebecca Romijn is frikkin hot.
Super Reviewer
June 3, 2006
Neat movie in the vain of Hitchcock.
Super Reviewer
April 16, 2010
DePalma can construct amazing stylistic sequences, the opening twenty minutes of the film are a testament to that. The film just gets goofier from there. The ending is so bizarre and completely ridiculous. I still found it enjoyable on some level, probably because I am just so amazed that De Palma combined film noir, Hitchcock, and a little david lynch in one film.
Super Reviewer
November 16, 2007
Extremely weird. Seemed like something, then it became something else.
Super Reviewer
January 25, 2009
I'm at a loss trying to fathom how terrible this screenplay is. I guess they were attempting to fashion an original twist, but their bad idea results in rendering 70% of the movie a complete waste of time. Throw in a handful of ridiculous contrivances and you've got a real mess.

Rebecca Romijn has a picture-perfect body, it's her subpar acting that needs a facelift. Antonio Banderas is barely OK which is further undermined by the fact that his character is a total imbecile. Other than Romijn's sexy dance, the best part is a 20-minute opening caper sequence set to a jaunty Bolero-like score, I scrutinized the credits but couldn't pick out the name or composer of the piece. Many points about the caper are as ridiculous as the rest of the movie, but at least there is some excitement about it.

I have bumped up the score of a bad movie before due to the presence of breathtaking beauty, and Rebecca Romijn is about as breathtaking as they come. She shows the most skin she ever has in this film, but the story is so awful that she could've been naked the whole time and I still couldn't justify anything higher. That would put it even with Taking Lives, which was also terrible but Femme Fatale is decisively even worse.
Critique Threatt
Super Reviewer
April 1, 2010
I think this is an awesome film by DePalma who is a master of the thriller game as much as Hitchcock was in provoking an audience. Femme Fatale is a great film about two very interesting chracters outsmarting each other in a game of cat and mouse. DePalma tells this erotic film in a non linear style and uses stunning visuals and smooth camera movements to enhance the story. The eroticism is quite fascinating as when Romajin seduces a young woman in a washroom while removing pieces of valuable jewlery. DePalma is a student of Hitchcock and with other films like "Body Heat" or "Obsession", "Femme Fatale" is another great gravy piece of filmmaking and again a respectful homage to Alfred Hitchcock.
½ December 13, 2009
Very stylish thriller, it doesn't always work, but it does have some very memorable scenes. It looks good and has a professional look to it. Good cinematography.
½ March 30, 2009
At first I thought it just an oversexed action flick, which it pretty much is... until you realize the cleverness of the allusions in a movie built around the philosophy that ever good deed IS somehow rewarded.
February 24, 2009
Take away a hot lesbian sex scene and an arty (but nevertheless full-frontal) shot of a nude Rebecca Romjin-Stamos, and this so-called "thriller" turns into a two-hour bore.
September 17, 2008
Lots of typical DePalma stuff here has plenty of voyeurism and film noir. Not a huge Banderas fan but he is okay here. The movie really tries to mess with your head with its narrative and I'm not sure how much I enjoyed trying to figure it out.
July 22, 2008
Before she was Mystique she was just as sneaky and dangerous in Femme Fatale. Well acted and written, I even liked Antonio Banderas in this one.
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