Thursday, January 17, 2008

8 femmes (2002)

Hot House Roses

"8 Femmes" is a deftly directed, vulnerable as a rose in a windstorm, touching as a sunrise, homage to women directed by Francois Ozon.
The film is populated with the who's-who of France's film world: Darrieux, Deneuve, Ardant, Beart, Huppert. As a contrast it would be as if Spielberg directed a film with: Roberts, Pfeiffer, Stone, Taylor, Sarandon. Thus, "8 Femmes" is eye-poppingly studded with Stars and therein lays a lot of its charm and success.
So what of the film itself? Well, it's an over-the-top who-done-it very much in the mold of George Cukor's "The Women." But whereas Cukor "opens-up" Claire Booth Luce's stage play to make it more like a film and not a filmed version of a play, Ozon does not.
In fact, Ozon closes "8F" with the entire cast standing in line and taking a bow as if it were a stage play; thereby reinforcing, rather than moving away from the artifice of a stage play.
At the films opening, Gaby (Deneuve) is confronted with the murder of her husband seemingly by one of the other 7 women ,as the house is snowbound: no one can come in or out. In reality this sounds an awful lot like an Agatha Christie Mystery like "10 Little Indians" rather than a Douglas Sirk melodrama like "Imitation of Life," which some have suggested. What strikes me as similar to a Sirk movie, is Ozon's attitude towards his women characters: their situations are absurd and silly but they themselves are not. And it is this humanist view of women that suffuses this film with Ozon's obvious love and admiration of women.
Much is revealed on a personal and social ,through dialogue circa 1950's France, level by all the characters which is the nature and style of a play: the characters say a lot but "do" little. And all manner of women from the maid through the maitresse of the house is equally represented...a 2002 ,not a 1950's take on things.
Francois Ozon's "8 Femmes" is a valentine of a movie dedicated to the various-ness, the ambiguity, the power of women. That it was made in France does not diminish its impact nor Universal appeal to everyone. By MICHAEL ACUNA

Torrent : here (576x304, 128kbps)
All subs : here

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