Femme Fatale
Review by Ross Anthony

Wow, this is something different. Antonio Banderas, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos -- you might be expecting something along the lines of "Ecks vs. Sever." Oh, dear reader, how very wrong you would be (despite a stiff opening sequence that Femme Fataleseemingly confirms that suspicion). But as soon as the ball gets rolling (and it gets rolling just after that scene) and the pieces are set in motion, an eerily re-written version of Ravel's "Bolero" grooving in the audio track, then you'll know ... this is not your ordinary Hollywood flick.

The almost-expressionistic diamond theft sequence, replete with dialogueless daring, expertise, humor, and sex, defines the film as a work of art. And like many works of art, its presentation will be followed, no doubt, by a wake of controversy. The female on female sensuality, alone, will attract that.

Rather than detailing the plot for you, which by the way, I find deliciously interesting, I'm drawn to paint for you the feeling of the production. It's this fertile "feeling" that De Palma evokes, that makes this work unique. He's filming in broad strokes, painting in rich colors. He's taking a jigsaw puzzle of a story, carefully holding each piece up to the light, enjoying the odd contours. He limits dialogue, comfortable in rolling many minutes of film with only music in the audio. Perhaps he wanted the actual "Bolero," but then upon viewing decided to re-score it, make us feel less sure of our footing. In any event, the resulting composition provides a rich marching spine to the carefully swirling images. The other musical backdrops are less magnificent, less original, thick and deliberately heavy. Though also less memorable, they still serve their purpose.

Often, when artists take risks, dare to be bold, their mistakes make louder contrast than those of more formulaic efforts. "Femme Fatale" holds moments, intentional or otherwise, that provoke hearty laughter. More than once, or twice or even three times, I found myself jarred by an image, a line, a caption that sent a jolt directly to my funny bone. Fault or artistic folly, I must admit, I was entertained.

Speaking of risks, nearly surreal, dabbling in French, this is no simple movie, and you'll be taking one if you choose to see it. I enjoyed the ride, creamy depth, and ultimate theme.

  • Femme Fatale. Copyright © 2002.
  • Starring Rebecca Romijn-Stamos, Antonio Banderas, Peter Coyote, Eriq Ebouaney, Edouard Montoute, Rie Rsmussen.
  • Written and Directed by Brian De Palma.
  • Produced by Tarak Ben Ammar, Marina Gefter.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:10:53 PDT