8 1/2 Women (1999) - Rotten Tomatoes

8 1/2 Women (1999)



Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Philip Emmenthal, a wealthy Genevan businessman, inherits eight and a half gambling houses which he transforms into private bordellos with the help of his son.

People Who Like this movie also like


John Standing
as Philip Emmenthal
Matthew Delamere
as Storey Emmenthal
Toni Collette
as Griselda
Natacha Amal
as Giaconda
Manna Fujiwara
as Giuletta/Half Woman
Polly Walker
as Palmira
Myriam Muller
as Marianne
Claire Johnston
as Philip's Wife
View All

Critic Reviews for 8 1/2 Women

All Critics (37) | Top Critics (8)

The headscratching weirdness doesn't gel into a discernible emotional point.

July 11, 2005 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Greenaway is always worth a look, but this one is more disorganized and half-baked than most of his work.

March 7, 2004 | Rating: 2/5

More than a couple taboos are broken in 8 1/2 Women and as many more are at least badly battered.

May 12, 2003 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Greenaway probes his idiosyncratic ideas about male fantasies, father and son relationships, chance, money,and revenge.

March 13, 2002 | Full Review…

Though the film has little more to offer than sex, little of it is actually shown, but there is a great deal of nudity. And, at times the shear oddity of it all is amusing.

September 16, 2001 | Rating: 1/4 | Full Review…

Demands an awful lot of fortitude on the way to a relatively strong and even touching final reel.

March 31, 2001 | Rating: B- | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for 8 1/2 Women

A weathy businessman and his son hire 9 women to participate in their private bordello. But why they do so, or what exactly is happening is unclear and seems just strange rather than interesting in any way

Red Lats
Red Lats

Super Reviewer


"8 1/2 Women" is often perceived as Peter Greenaway's low point, and it's easy to see why. Conceived as a dark sex comedy, it has no laughs and is scarcely even sexy. Philip and Storey Emmenthal (neither actor is familiar to me at all) are a wealthy father and his worldwise son. Philip's wife dies unexpectedly, and Storey travels from Kyoto to Geneva to be with his devastated father. They have a disturbingly candid relationship which includes open nudity, frank talk about their penises and even one implied night of sexual comforting. After watching a screening of Fellini's "8 1/2" (a surreal exchange with nearby audience members is surprisingly Woody Allen-esque and is as close as the film gets to a "funny" scene), the Emmenthals develop the idea of hosting their own harem at Philip's posh estate. They sign "8 1/2" women to contracts -- the "1/2" woman has no legs -- and embark on a fantasy lifestyle. Each of the women has something quirky about her, though the script crucially fails to develop their characters much, once they are introduced. One is described as a "baby factory," and has borne multiple children. She is Storey's favorite. Another (Toni Collette, on the cusp of greater "Sixth Sense" fame) is a Norwegian bank clerk turned nun. Another (Amanda Plummer) has been in an equestrian accident, and is in a body brace. She has a strangely intimate bond with a large pig. The group also includes an accountant who helps run the Emmenthals' pachinko parlors (Vivian Wu, notably unconvincing in a "brainy" role), a pachinko addict, a housemaid, a bizarre kabuki actress with a shoe fetish and, most importantly, a crafty woman (Polly Walker) who becomes a dominant household figure and wins Philip's love. The film opens with one of Greenaway's trademark "lists" -- numbered shots of eight glitzy pachinko parlors, including real-life street addresses -- but arty editing and severe lighting quickly thwart anything resembling a comic tone. Recurrent earthquakes don't help either. Greenaway also makes the puzzling choice of dividing the film into five sections, each chunk opening with a superimposed excerpt of that scene's script. Also peculiar: There is no onscreen sex in a movie about sex, and the men appear nude more often than the women (although Collette presents herself as the only name actress I have ever seen with a fully shaved crotch). Once the harem is in place, Greenaway can't think of anything interesting to do beyond steer toward its dissolution, and the characters are so cold that one stops caring about their fate long before the film ends. In fact, the only likable person is a blushing, secondary housemaid who has just one good scene. "How many film directors make films to satisfy their sexual fantasies?" asks Philip. "I would imagine most of them," answers Storey.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

It's not that bad, Another bizzare movie by a Director/Painter with some hilarious moments, I really missed Michael Nyman's beautiful soundtracks in this one

Arash Xak
Arash Xak

Super Reviewer

8 1/2 Women Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

News & Features