DVD Review: 8 Femmes

“Un homme? Pourquoi un homme?”

Having recently seen Isabelle Huppert on stage and Fanny Ardant at a film festival, I was reminded that I hadn’t watched François Ozon’s 8 Femmes for some time and I took great pleasure in reacquainting myself with a film I love dearly. If I believed in guilty pleasures this would be up there but for me, there’s no guilt at all, purely pleasure. Adapted by Ozon from the play by Robert Thomas, 8 Femmes is a retro delight, a technicolour musical version of an Agatha Christie-esque murder mystery, beautifully spoofing the overblown Hollywood style.

It also boasts quite the roll-call of cross-generational French acting talent in the eight women it gathers in a snowbound country mansion to celebrate Christmas with the single man of the piece Marcel. There’s his wife Gaby (Catherine Deneuve), his mother-in-law Mamy (Danielle Darrieux), his sister-in-law Augustine (Isabelle Huppert), his daughters Catherine (Ludivine Sagnier) and Suzon (Virginie Ledoyen), his sister Pierette (Franny Ardant) and his household staff Madame Chanel (Firmine Richard) and Louise (Emmanelle Béart).

Continue reading “DVD Review: 8 Femmes”

DVD Review: Nathalie…

“Qu’est-ce que tu veux monsieur?”

Anne Fontaine’s Nathalie… doesn’t have the greatest of reputations but I have to say I rather like the film, so very typically French in its study of middle class angst, extra-marital affairs and sexual obsession. Fanny Ardant plays icily cool gynaecologist Catherine whose marriage to Gerard Dépardieu’s Bernard has grown a little stale, her suspicions at his increasing absences eventually proved when she finds evidence of adultery on his phone.

So naturally she contracts a prostitute, Emmanuelle Béart’s Marlene who is swiftly renamed Nathalie, to meet up with her husband, seduce him and then tell her all about it. This then awakens something in Catherine’s own sexuality which encourages her to develop a somewhat unhealthy relationship to an already twisted set-up as she has an affair by proxy with her husband, as well as an actual affair with another man. Continue reading “DVD Review: Nathalie…”

DVD Review: Mission Impossible

“Ethan, you’re not making any sense”

Emmanuelle Béart probably wouldn’t thank me for selecting this particular movie to represent her but as I scrolled down the rest of the cast list, I could scarcely believe that both Kristin Scott Thomas and Vanessa Redgrave were in this film – it being so long since I first saw it that I remember nothing of it – that I couldn’t resist revisiting it. A remake of the 70s TV show helmed by Brian De Palma and led by Tom Cruise, Mission: Impossible has since become a highly successful franchise, though this first film hasn’t really stood up to the test of time.

It is actually quite amusing to watch, not least because it is nearly 20 years old now and nothing dates quite so quickly as a movie that does hi-tech. The 90s version of the internet is hilarious as is the technological chatter, and the email client that is used is as quaint as anything. Special effects look laboured (those glasses…!) and the climactic big sequence is simply daft – a helicopter chasing a Eurostar train through the Channel Tunnel? (although granted, such ridiculousness is a Hollywood staple in such big-budget action films). Continue reading “DVD Review: Mission Impossible”