I was there Gandalf, 3000 years ago when an erotic thriller Femme Fatale took the world by storm. Directed by Brian De Palma (Carrie, Scarface, Carlito’s Way) and starring smoking hot Rebecca Romijn, it was going to be proof that this type of movie can be successful in the new century. Unfortunately, this simply was not meant to be as the movie made just $16 million on a $35 million budget. A definition of a box office bomb. The reason why it didn’t manage to attract a bigger audience is very simple. This is an artistic movie with a rather complex and convoluted story. Additionally, it’s not as sexy as you might think with only a couple of scenes featuring nudity.
If your movie is called Femme Fatale and it features a lot less nudity than an average teen comedy, people are going to dislike it. When it comes to the story, I will tell you that I watched this movie last night completely sober. It had my undivided attention and I still missed a couple of important plot points. And we also have a big twist towards the end that completely threw me off. I did get that one though. However, several sequences simply don’t make any sense. Something you will find out right away as we follow the opening heist. I almost lost it when Laure started kissing Veronica. The whole scene felt like a cheap excuse to show off some skin.
This was the moment I decided to let go of all my expectations and just go with the flow. I think this is the only way you can enjoy Femme Fatale. And there’s a lot to enjoy here. Firstly, De Palma’s direction is simply sublime. The way the camera moves and how the scenes flow is so smooth you’ll forget the fact that it doesn’t make any sense. Secondly, the story isn’t so bad and up until the twist, it offers intriguing character development.
Finally, you really can’t guess where they’re going with all of this. De Palma stated that this was his goal “to build up the plot’s intrigue, and as a director, to film the story in such a way as to make it impossible for the audience to anticipate what will happen next.” It’s not as slick and neat as Bound but much closer to the infamous style-over-substance genre.
We meet deadly and beautiful Laure Ash disguised as a photographer at the Cannes Film Festival. She and two other operators are planning a daring heist. And everything seems to be going well for our criminal trio until everything goes terribly wrong. However, Laure manages to escape in the confusion with the entirety of the loot. Knowing full well that her former partners are going to be looking for her, she decides to go to the United States. And again, everything seems to be going well…
One of the main reasons why people watch this movie is its main star, Rebecca who broke out just two years earlier as Mystique in X-Men. To be honest, I would watch her bake potatoes for two hours and still be a happy camper. She’s stunningly beautiful and she can act too, a rare combination. Granted, her accent wasn’t the greatest but who the fuck cares about that. Antonio Banderas gave a solid performance along with Peter Coyote reprising his role from Bitter Moon. Eriq Ebouaney was pure evil and a force of a revenging nature.
Femme Fatale is equal parts psychological and erotic thriller. Too bad the psychological aspect is too vague to be taken seriously. But you have to admit that it’s there. The sexy scenes and the nudity won’t make you feel like you’re a pervert but a sophisticated man or a woman of great taste. Like the Greeks and their appreciation of the human body. If you’re looking for more of the same, I recommend you first check out Malena and Unfaithful. We also shouldn’t forget about Original Sin, also starring Antonio Banderas who this time hooks up with Angelina Jolie.
Director: Brian De Palma
Writer: Brian De Palma
Cast: Rebecca Romijn, Antonio Banderas, Peter Coyote, Eriq Ebouaney, Edouard Montoute, Rie Rasmussen
Fun Facts: Uma Thurman and Jennifer Lopez were in contention for the role of Laure.