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Although FEMME FATALE ($27) purports to be an homage to the film noir genre of yesterday, this film is seems to have more in common with director Brian DePalma’s earlier Hitchcock influenced work. There is a genuine sense of familiarity in FEMME FATALE, as though we’ve seen this some of this imagery before in films like DePalma’s SISTERS, DRESSED TO KILL and BODY DOUBLE. To be honest, there were things that I very much liked about FEMME FATALE and others that I wished could have been a whole lot better. The eye candy quotient of FEMME FATALE rates quite highly, especially the film’s luscious cinematography and even more luscious leading lady Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (John, if you are reading this, you are one lucky SOB). As for the film’s convoluted plot, I could have done without some of the preposterous shenanigans the DePalma tries to get away with in his screenplay.

FEMME FATALE opens well enough with a very stylish jewel heist that takes place at the Cannes Film Festival. Rebecca Romijn-Stamos portrays Laure, a thief who masquerades as a photographer to lures a beautiful model into the ladies room, where she seduces and strips her of millions of dollars worth of diamonds. Unfortunately, the jewel heist doesn’t come off as expected, which forces Laure to go into hiding by assuming the identity of a distraught woman, who commits suicide. Seven years pass and Laure is living as Lily- the wife of an American diplomat, who has been assigned to the Paris office. Enter paparazzi photographer Nicolas Bardo (Antonio Banderas), who snaps a picture of the Ambassador’s camera shy wife, which leads him into a web of deceit and murder. It seems that the recently published photo draws the attention of Laure’s cast off accomplices, who come looking for revenge and their share of the stolen diamonds. The cast of FEMME FATALE also features Peter Coyote, Eriq Ebouaney, Edouard Montoute, Rie Rasmussen, Thierry Frémont and Gregg Henry.

Warner Home Video has made FEMME FATALE available on DVD in a 1.78:1 wide screen presentation that features the anamorphic enhancement for 16:9 displays. No ands, ifs or buts about it- this is a great looking transfer. The image on the DVD is very crisp and highly defined, which brings out even the smallest of details. Colors are generally vibrant and tend to favor the warmer side of the spectrum. Flesh tones are always appealing and the color reproduction is free from chroma noise or signs of smearing. Blacks are deep and velvety, while the whites appear clean and completely stable. Shadow detail is very good, plus the image produces a nice dimensional quality. Although there are a number of dark scenes in FEMME FATALE, there is very little by way of a noticeable grain structure in the presentation. Digital compression artifacts remain well concealed throughout.

FEMME FATALE comes with a very nice sounding Dolby Digital 5.1 channel soundtrack. Fidelity is truly excellent when it comes to reproducing Ryuichi Sakamoto score, which has an excellent sense of musical presence. However, those expecting an aggressively mixed soundtrack will be somewhat disappointed by FEMME FATALE. For the most par the sound designers take a subtle and subdued approach to the mix, keeping things clean sounding and utilizing the soundstage to create an ambient sense of space. The film’s score is the sound component most frequently integrated into the outlying channels, although the track does tend to favor the forward soundstage. Dialogue is always cleanly rendered, with excellent intelligibility. The bass channel is fairly solid, enhancing both music and sound effects. A French 5.1 channel track is also encoded onto the DVD, as are English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Full motion video, animation and sound serve to enhance the interactive menus. Through the menus, one has access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the DVD’s supplemental materials. Visualizing Femme Fatale is an eleven-minute program that features interviews with Brian DePalma and the films leading players, with the director talking about how he brought his artistic vision for the movie to life. Femme Fatale: An Appreciation runs shy of twenty-five minutes and looks at the technical side of the film’s production. Femme Fatale: Dressed to Kill is two minutes more of Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (not that I mind) and how her appearance changes over the course of the movie. Behind The Scenes is a standard five minute PR piece that offers little more than a retread of things covered in the other programs. Selective cast & crew filmographies, as well as American and French theatrical trailers close out the supplements.

While not perfect, FEMME FATALE offers enough to make it of interest to Brian DePalma and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos fans. As for the DVD, it looks great and sounds quite good, so there won’t be any complaints on that front.



Femme Fatale (2002)


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2003 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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