Femme Fatale

| November 9, 2002

Why is this movie not getting tons of play? I don’t get it. If you liked other Brian De Palma films like Snake Eyes, Mission Impossible, The Untouchables, Scarface, and Carrie (the original, not that bullshit that was just on TV), then go see his latest–Femme Fatale.
We are taken to the Cannes Film Festival for the opening of the movie East-West. It is obvious we are about to witness a crime but who can pay attention because there is this actress walking down the red carpet wearing nothing but a short skirt (short on the top, short on the bottom) and a gold snake piece of jewelry that could only be worn by a woman with small nipples because it covers virtually nothing.
We know that photographer Laure Ash (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos from X-Men) is part of it and are mesmerized by interaction between her, her camera and the actress. Visually, we are being treated to split screen (like the TV show 24) action from all around the theater and see the crime being set-up by three other guys in three other places but we can’t take our eyes off of this HOT woman showing us every part of her amazingly tantalizing body (was that nipple I saw peeking out?!!!!!).
All of a sudden it comes to us–they are stealing the snake! But how will they get it off of her? When Ash follows the actress into the bathroom, we are treated to the answer to that question which also shows exactly why this movie received its A-rating. Guys–if you don’t get a chubby in the first 15 minutes of this movie, you probably need Viagra. What also happens in this opening sequence is that we see another example of the age-old saying that there is no honor among thieves, as Romijn-Stamos not only gets the girl (Veronica played by model Rie Rasmussen), but gets away with the diamond encrusted jewelry worth $10 million. This entire sequence has been set to Bolero like backdrop music (an inspired piece by Ryuichi Sakamoto) that builds and builds while we get hotter and hotter… This is the first time you will stop the DVD for a “break,” but definitely not the last.
Ash will now have to disappear because the bad guys will come after her and the rest of the movie will follow her as she protects herself from being found. It is also at this point that the movie is going to begin taking some David Lynch like twists in plot–but I promise you that, unlike Lynch crap like Mulholland Drive, you will get a payoff that can make sense in several ways. To tell you much more of the story would be unfair, but think about those movies you have seen with fun changes in direction (like Sixth Sense or The Crying Game) and Femme Fatale will take you on a sexually charged roller coaster of a crime mystery. I have put a couple of hints at the bottom of this review after the tag line if you want some more information going in.
This is Romijn-Stamos’ third starring role in a movie and we are seeing a definite development in her acting ability. You know she is a bad girl. You know she is manipulative. You know that getting involved with her is a bad idea. But you still can’t wait to be with her. That’s what happens to paparazzo Nicolas Bardo (Antonio Banderas from Original Sin and Spy Kids), whom she proceeds to manipulate so as to finally escape with all that money. This is the best role I have seen for Banderas and actually had positive feelings for this scummy little photographer. They have a seen in the “Sailor Bar” that is absolutely un-B-leeevable.
There are lots of discussions going on among the critics of De Palma’s latest work. I see the terms Avant Garde, French Film Noir being tossed about as they decide whether they like it or not. Jeez. Without giving you the give away to the plot, just know that there are things going on during the movie that you will not get until the last half hour (1 hour 50 minute run time) and trust yourself that those holes in the plot are there for a reason. You will have many things explained and will (I hope after I give this such a positive review) like the result.
Hints for those who want to be amused while they watch: In the Sailor Bar–does the bartender look familiar? He is one of the security guys from the opening sequence. Check out the time on every clock after the heist. It always seems to be 3:37. How is she followed to the hotel by Lily’s mother and father so easily? Why is room 214 the only one used? There are lots of little things that make us know that there is weirdness to be had. I can’t wait for my next viewing to find more of them.

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