Femme Fatale (2002)
Main cast: Rebecca Romijn-Stamos (Laure/Lily), Antonio Banderas (Nicolas Bardo), Peter Coyote (Watts), Eriq Ebouaney (Black Tie), Edouard Montoute (Racine), Rie Rasmussen (Veronica), and Thierry Frémont (Serra)
Director: Brian De Palma


The only reason why I can think of as to why those critics are raving about this purported "noir" movie is because the predominantly male audience are too spent by their watching the gratuitous lesbian love scene between Rebecca Romjin-Stamons' Laure and Rie's Veronica in the ladies room ten minutes into the movie. Having spent the remaining of the movie staring at the ceiling in bliss, they probably fake their enthusiasm for the really artificial schlock of a movie. It is also rather unfair for De Palma to treat the audience of a full frontal Romjin-Stamos but I am not even given a glance at Antonio Banderas' buttocks. No wonder this movie tanked.

Laure is a conwoman in a scheme launched by Black Tie and company. She has lesbian sex with Rie, a model wearing priceless jewelry, and when the jewels fall to the floor, Black Tie scoop them up from the crack below the cubicle door and switches them with fakes. In case you miss the fact that the women are having sex and not playing checkers, De Palma makes sure that Rie plasters her nipples to the transluscent door and forces the camera for a closer look.

Rie squeals - okay, squeals some more after the love scene is done with - and things go wrong, leaving Laure free to run away solo with the jewels. She leaves the country and marries Watts, a nice elderly guy, and hopes to start life anew on a clean slate. That is, until the photographer Nicolas Bardo snaps her picture and sells it and Black Tie realizes where she is. Frankly, a hunted woman who has money and not get cosmetic surgery to alter her face deserves what she gets.

Romjin-Stamos has the looks of a conventional beauty, but she has no sizzle at all and any femme fatale allure she exudes is a figment of the overheated male libido short-circuited by the lesbian love scene. Incidentally, a lesbian love scene in a toilet seems more like a male fantasy, and this is probably what this movie is. She and Banderas have zero chemistry and their love scene is as erotic as sitting bare-assed on wet paint.

But the biggest flaw of this movie is that instead of building up the momentum, De Palma chooses to utilize cheap narrative tricks to culminate in one of the biggest cheats of a climax in a movie ever. Seriously, the grand pinnacle of the movie is such an anticlimax, the movie becomes irrelevant there and then.

Maybe next time De Palma will make a movie that is more than a gimmick of seeing how many ways he can get Rebecca Romjin-Stamos to perform visual come-hither looks at the audience. Femme Fatale is more of a Femme Boring than anything.

Rating: 49


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