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Rebecca Romijn, Antonio Banderas, Peter Coyote, Eriq Ebouaney, Edouard Montoute ... see more see more... , Rie Rasmussen , Thierry Fremont , Sandrine Bonnaire , Régis Wargnier , Gilles Jacob , Olivier Albou , Ugne Andrikonyte , Jaoquina Balaunde , David Belle , Laurence Breheret , Emilie Chatel , Jean Chatel , Chloe Cremont , David Cuny , Fiona Curzon , Eva Darlan , Leonardo de la Fuente , Bart De Palma , Henri Ernst , Eric Fesais , Alain Figlarz , Olivier Follet , Marie Foulquie , Jean-Marie Frin , Matthew Geczy , Serge Gonnin , Dorothee Grosjean , Philippe Guegan , Faco Hanela , Denis Hecker , Gregg Henry , Dan Herzberg , Salvatore Ingoglia , Pascale Jacquemot , Valerie Maes , Ada Marmion , Yves Marmion , Laurence Martin , Bertrand Merignac , Francoise Michaud , Daniel Millgram , Jean-Marc Mineo , Sam Olivier , Pascal Ondicolberry , Aurelie Pauker , Stephane Petit , Jo Prestia , Regis Quennesson , Justine Renard , Gerard Renault , Pascal Silvestre , Beata Sonczuk-Ben Ammar , Matilde Tancredi , Stephen Van Nietert , Stephen Van Nukerk , Driki Van Zyl , Rebecca Romijn-Stamos

A contemporary film noir about an alluring seductress named Laure Ash. A sultry former jewel thief and con woman trying to live the straight life, Laure is suddenly exposed to the world--and her enemi... read more read a voyeuristic photographer, Nicholas Bardo, who takes a sudden interest in her. Seen as a dangerous individual dressed in black, Nicholas is always hounding her, attempting to reveal Laure for what she really is--a born manipulator. As Nicholas tries to determine her true intentions, he begins to uncover some dangerous secrets. Her shadowy life of deceit had also spawned vengeful co-conspirators who will neither forget, nor forgive her lies. Laure's shady past comes back to haunt her, and soon thereafter, Nicholas becomes ensnared in her surreal quest for revenge.

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49% liked it

18,597 ratings


48% liked it

134 critics

DVD Release Date: March 25, 2003

Stats: 688 reviews

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Flixster Reviews (688)

  • March 30, 2010
    It really feels like a lot of Brian De Palmaâ??s early work, playing around with the Noir genre and fitting it into a modern caper/thriller. The visual style is beautiful, even more than usual due to the fact that itâ??s filmed in breathtaking areas in Cannes. The story is extrem... read moreely fun and keeps you guessing along the way. The acting is decent, Rebecca Romijn clearly wasnâ??t that experienced at the time, but more of her work is visual anyway. Iâ??m also not a huge fan of Antonio Banderas, but he was actually very good in this. While itâ??s not a perfect movie, itâ??s definitely worthwhile and a return to the past for De Palma.
  • December 2, 2009
    Outstanding! The opening stole my attention already.
  • June 2, 2009
    A pretty decent sultry thriller directed by Brian DePalma. A jewel thief tries to cover her past but a chance photo of her alerts the people she has crossed before. Enjoyable if not quite a classic but I do like the ending and Rebecca Romijn suits the role to a T before her succe... read moress as Mystique in the X-Men series.
  • March 19, 2009
    I loved it! Rebecca is fantastic, breathtakingly beautiful and a fine actress too. Antonio Bandaras is great, although his comedic lines are too goofy. This is a story about all manner of trickery, typical of DePalma. His story line is as convoluted as ever (Snake Eyes, Body Doub... read morele), but his fans expect this. In the disk's Special Features, I enjoyed the director's commentary. This delivers the sizzle, if not the substance.
  • August 17, 2008
    "Femme Fatale" is best understood as a game played by Brian De Palma and appreciated by knowing cineastes. It's not about story or characters, but about the construction and manipulation of art.

    Antonio Banderas plays Nicolas Bardo, a photographer who has turned his back on ph... read moreotographing celebrities. He now spends his time living in an apartment, making huge composite images by arranging tiny photographs. The Bardo character, in many ways, is Brian De Palma. At war with Hollywood storytelling (which is fuelled by celebrity) De Palma takes these multiple images and weaves them into a tapestry until a final image is made. The point is that the final image is not reality. It is the artists recreation and completely false.

    At the end of the film, Bardo completes his masterpiece by inserting a little white figure (of Laura) onto his wall. The figure doesn't belong there, Bardo simply chooses to put it there. Thematically, "Femme Fatale" ends on the same note. Noir fatalism is thwarted by a completely arbitrary, totally ILLOGICAL and cosmically IMPOSSIBLE moment of editing whereby De Palma redeems his hero and kills off her opponents.

    Critics call this sequence implausible. But De Palma's point is that it doesn't have to be plausible. Bardo puts the white figure on his wall because he wants to. Similarly, De Palma ends the film as he does, because he wants to. He shows us Laura's depressing noir dream and then rescues her from it. He makes it clear that he is redeeming her and willing this positive ending into existence solely because he as an artist (noir God), has the power to do so.

    This flips the usual noir logic. If Kubrick's "The Killing" highlights the deterministic law of the universe (Clay's plan crumbling to pieces all because of a random poodle), De Palma's "Femme Fatale" highlights the power of the artist, able to do recreate a universe entirely devoid of cosmic law.

    This theme is also highlighted by the use of the name "Bardo", a Tibetan word meaning "intermediate state". A state between life and death. Over the course of the film, Bardo will be caught between life and death, as De Palma toys with killing him. Bardo's existence or artistic merit is down to an artist's mere whim.

    Everything else about De Palma is present in Femme Fatale: the voyeur and his object, the representation inside the representation, the original and its fake copy, the doubled characters, key episodes built from multiple points of views, the elaborate camera work.

    Watch as De Palma's camera continuously misleads our eyes, giving the hidden predominance over the shown, until we are forced to separate in our minds the real from its representation and to connect the different pieces into a "sense".

    This technique comprises the film watching experience as a whole, and is what De Palma's films are essentially about, from Jack Terry's reconstruction of a truth with the aid of montage in "Blow Out", to Santoro's investigations of a crime from partial testimonies in "Snake Eyes".

    This theme, the division between reality and image, has grown increasingly important for De Palma. His last five movies ("Redacted", "Dahlia", "Mission Impossible", "Snake Eyes," and "Mission to Mars,") were all concerned with how we see and watch movies. He is obsessed with reminding us that information is not the same thing as knowledge.

    "Snake Eyes" opened with an unbroken tracking shot that laid out the plot. The rest of the movie was a demonstration of why everything we had seen in that sequence was a lie. The opening sequence of "Mission: Impossible" showed us Tom Cruise's crew of agents being picked off one by one. We had already seen each of those murders, though, in nearly subliminal blips during the movie's credit sequence (information without knowledge). "Black Dahlia" and "Redacted" similarly deal with a search for truth amongst an image bank of lies.

    "Femme Fatale" begins with a long heist sequence. Throughout this sequence, allusions are made to "Snake Eyes" (eg- the literal "serpent camera" and the object of the heist, a snake shaped piece of gold), De Palma effectively saying: "I'm lying to you. The camera is a snake and not to be trusted." Note the film "Est - Ouest" showing as the heist goes on. Another stream-of-consciousness film with an unreliable narrator.

    The rest of "Femme Fatale" takes a "dream within a film" approach, (foreshadowed in opening shot). De Palma sets the dream sequence up with careful details: the storm, the clock (Time: 3:33), the water running, Laura sinking. Signs that would eventually emerge all the way through, emphasising the surreal atmosphere of Laura's adventure.

    From here on, logic will be put aside as De Palma's mise-en-scene develops into pure form. Everything is disconnected, dialogue makes no sense (at some points it's dubbed without even following the actors' lips), time jumps back and forth etc.

    During the dream, Laura will embody different female archetypes, all traceable in film history and particularly in De Palma's films. She's Kim Novak in "Vertigo" and also Melanie Griffith's prostitute of "Body Double" and so on and so on.

    The majority of De Palma's films have dream sequences. Even a "serious" film like 'Casualties of War' ends with a character waking up on a train, realising that the whole film was a nightmare. Why does De Palma feel the need to insert this? My guess is that he doesn't want his films to be seen as "real". They exist in a wholly metaphysical space.

    As usual with a De Palma film, critics and audiences rejected Femme Fatale. But this is a brilliant film, it's only flaw being an unimaginatively shot (by De Palma standards) heist sequence.
  • January 24, 2008
    This is, without doubt, one of Brian De Palma's greatest achievements, an incredibly rich and playful movie which immeasurably rewards repeated viewings. Basically, you get out of it what you put in. If you've got your wits about you, an open mind and a keen pair of eyes, you're ... read morein for a treat. Beneath its ludicrous exterior there lurks as intelligent a film as you could wish to see, a film which, refreshingly, credits its audience with the ability to understand it without spoon-feeding. If you've been paying close enough attention, the controversial late twist triumphantly validates innumerable carefully laid glimpses of the truth; you ought to feel exhilarated rather than cheated, eager to hit the rewind button in search of further clues. In De Palma's enchanted world: fish-tanks mimic overflowing baths, advertising posters offer vital pointers, casually seen faces become woven into the story and time stands still. As a Parallel Universe thriller, it's smarter, wittier, more inventive and more skilfully told than "Run, Lola, Run" et al. Ironically, this masterpiece sank without a trace in the UK and is hard to locate on DVD.
  • October 25, 2007
    What a piece of crap.
  • July 9, 2007
    Another intricated cinephile masturbation by DePalma, though his virtuous and stylish mise-en-scene is always present. fun and sexy, especially for the soundtrack and Rebecca Romijn's presence.
  • July 2, 2007
    One of the coolest openings ever...Hot Lesbian Cannes Heist action...
  • January 10, 2007
    Starting out rather interestingly with a well-filmed heist scene, DePalma tries a little to hard to be the modern day Hitchcock afterwards. While beautifully shot and with a nice twist towards the end, the conclusion somehow made me wonder if this was DePalma's attempt on the pow... read moreer of coincidence, similar to Shyamalan's "Signs". Funnily enough, the aliens movie is more realistic in that aspect than the ending of this movie. At least Rebecca Romijn is frikkin hot.

Critic Reviews

Jonathan Rosenbaum
November 15, 2002
Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

I found myself capitulating to its inspired formalist madness -- something I've resisted in [De Palma's] films for the past 30-odd years. Full Review

Richard Roeper
November 11, 2002
Richard Roeper, Ebert & Roeper

A wonderful ride. Full Review

David Edelstein
November 9, 2002
David Edelstein, Slate

De Palma has provided enough ripe flesh, split-screen mayhem, and dreamlike imagery to power six films noir. Full Review

Desson Thomson
November 8, 2002
Desson Thomson, Washington Post

No normal person should hurt himself trying to follow the thing.

Ty Burr
November 8, 2002
Ty Burr, Boston Globe

Great over-the-top moviemaking if you're in a slap-happy mood. Full Review

Bill Muller
November 8, 2002
Bill Muller, Arizona Republic

At least Femme Fatale has an apt title - "femme" because it's about a woman and "fatale" because it makes you want to jump out a window.

John Powers
November 7, 2002
John Powers, L.A. Weekly

[Romijin-Stamos] knows her way around a wisecrack, and Femme Fatale may do for her what Basic Instinct did for Sharon Stone. Full Review

Michael Wilmington
November 7, 2002
Michael Wilmington, Chicago Tribune

A feast for hard-core movie or De Palma buffs (and Romijn-Stamos junkies) but a famine for anyone looking for a good story. Full Review

Stephen Hunter
November 6, 2002
Stephen Hunter, Washington Post

Pretty amusing when the director apes Hitchcock, and pretty awful when he apes himself. Full Review

Claudia Puig
November 6, 2002
Claudia Puig, USA Today

More tawdry than titillating, what should have been sultry is more often skanky. Full Review

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Femme Fatale Trivia

  • In The Black Dahlia, who played the enigmatic 'femme fatale', Madeleine Linscot?  Answer »
  • Who play as the bad girl in femme fatale?  Answer »
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  • Name the actress who plays Meredith Johnson, the Femme Fatale, who causes much trouble for Michael Douglas in Disclosure (1994)?  Answer »

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