Femme Fatale ★★★★

De Palma’s fuck you to the arthouse crowd? Think about it: Here we have a film so compositionally glorious yet the actual plot is pretty well-treaded and there are points where it’s ridiculous. None more so than the opening which takes place where? Cannes. De Palma shoots this long opening scene with all the bravado and unique eye that a world like Cannes would eat up if the film itself was considered of higher class. The very first moment of the opening shot is Romijn-Stamos reflected back through her TV, while she watches Double Indemnity with French subtitles. The whole film jumps between French and English as if De Palma is constantly cracking jokes at pompous cinemagoers expense - since naturally any film in French is automatically pretentious yet pure art. The opening setpiece involving a celebrity wearing the skimpiest of clothing made of diamonds that’s planned to be stolen via lesbian means - all while presumably the Palme D’or is being screened - is so very De Palma. Who needs profound subtext when you’ve got lesbian diamond smugglers?

Later Antonio Banderas shows up as a sleazy paparazzi photographer - the De Palma surrogate - who at first is hired to capture pics of beautiful celebrities before getting caught up in a game of murder and money. Everything culminates in what’s ostensibly an egregious twist that would (and probably has) made most facepalm, but I read it as the ultimate De Palma joke. It basically goes against all typical screenwriting rules but the whole point of this film from my view is to film dumb shit in the most beautiful manner, in a sort of game with the audience. Does one dismiss this solely based on plot? Or can you look further at De Palma’s wizardry behind the camera? This is everything that would be booed out of Cannes, which is exactly what De Palma would want. You can have your Dardennes and your Dolans, De Palma will happily keep making kinetic, engaging work that gets dismissed as sleazy or trashy.

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