Saturday, November 09, 2002

Femme Fatale (IMDB) (Netflix)
After an impressive string of box office stiffs (Bonfire of the Vanities, Mission to Mars, Snake Eyes), director Brian De Palma (Carrie, Scarface, The Untouchables, Mission: Impossible) moved to France to lick his wounds, then write and shoot this stylish-but-absurd noir thriller. Supermodel Rebecca Romijn-Stamos is the bad-ass femme and Antonio Banderas the struggling photographer who crosses her path, and as with the recent The Truth About Charlie, there's a McGuffin (Alfred Hitchcock's term for the thing that everyone's chasing after), lots of guns and it's set in Paris, but the movies couldn't be more different.

The upside of the writer and director living in the same head is that the writer's vision doesn't get mucked up during production, but there's also no one to question his thinking. The metric tonnage of coincidences and glossed-over plot holes would strain the suspension cables on the Golden Gate Bridge, so analytical types with high blood pressure are advised to steer clear (there's a twist toward the end that resolves some of the absurdities, but it'll be far too late for these people, or just tick them off further). Banderas has never overwhelmed with his performances, and Romijn-Stamos is still more supermodel than actor, but thankfully she hasn't picked up any annoying scruples about taking her clothes off (wait until the first award nomination, though).

Those who appreciate filmmaking bravado and can check their left brains at the door, however, should give this a shot, because De Palma knows where to put and move a camera, build suspense and cut a film together in ways that few others can.