Brian De Palma obviously doesn’t trust the intelligence of his
audience. He starts Femme
Fatale with one of his characters watching Double Indemnity, the Billy
Wilder, Fred MacMurray-Barbara Stanwyck film that got film noir off
and running (watching Double Indemnity today is like watching a
dinosaur. The acting is
stilted and the script has some lines that are so bad they will live
in infamy. The “‘S'posin’”
dialogue between Stanwyck and MacMurray is so bad it’s painful to
listen to). De Palma’s screaming, “This is film noir!!”
If so, De
Palma choked. Jerry West
used to say that there were a lot of players who liked to shoot, but
when the game was on the line, most of them wanted to pass off.
There were very, very, few, West opined, who wanted to shoot in
crunch time. Why?
Because they choked. A
guy who scored 32 points would shoot an air ball when he took the last
shot of the game. In Femme Fatale, De Palma had a good game going, but shot an
air ball at the end.
too bad, because going into the final minutes he had a 30-point game,
despite a leading lady Rebecca Romijn-Stamos whose acting doesn’t
measure up to her great body for the dual roles she plays (Laure and
Lilly). In a story like
this, any telling of the plot can ruin the film for the viewer, so
I’m not going there. It’s
an ingenious plot and Laure Ash could have been a memorable character
had she been played with some heart and talent.
Nicolas Bardo (well played by Antonio Banderas) enters the film
later as the good guy victimized by Laure.
pretty good ride, despite the failure of Romijn-Stamos, up until the
last ten minutes when it should have ended.
But when the film continues it looks as if the suits in New
York said, “Hey, we can’t end it like this.
This is Hollywood! Let’s have a Hollywood ending!” so that’s what they
did. It almost looks as
if the last ten minutes had been added after previews, like Thalberg
used to do. Big mistake.
Leave after the scene on the bridge and just figure the film
ended there. Had it, this
would have been a very good film.
But the way it ends renders this mediocre, at best.
If only French Director Jacques Audiard (Read My Lips) had
taken a shot at this material. He
would have had the courage and sensitivity to know how to end it.