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This review is from: Femme Fatale [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
FEMME FATALE is, like THE SIXTH SENSE, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, THE OTHERS and HE LOVES ME, HE LOVES ME NOT, a film that capitalizes on a sudden change in perception that opens wide the eyes of the audience. Directed by Brian De Palma, it's a masterpiece of visual cinematic artistry.
Drop-dead gorgeous Rebecca-Romijn-Stamos plays Laure Ash, the key member of a gang of thieves poised to snatch a piece of diamond-encrusted clothing off a super model in the Palais du Cinema at the Cannes film festival. (I use the word "clothing" loosely. It's more a revealing piece of jewelry, and something you'd allow your teenage daughter to wear to the prom only over your dead body.) In any case, Laure double-crosses her cohorts, leaving them to go to prison while she absconds with the rocks. Stashing the loot with a fence, Ash grasps a sudden opportunity to assume another identity and flies to the U.S., where she marries a Washington, D.C. insider. Seven years later, she returns to France a High Profile Figure, a situation that puts her in danger, especially after paparazzo Nicolas Bardo (Antonio Banderas) captures an image of her that's recognized by a former criminal associate, now released from prison and looking to get even and recover the swag.
If the plot so far seems improbable, it is. But no matter, since the excellence of this film is in its sumptuous visual presentation, often with minimal or no dialog, during which the director makes effective use of slow motion and split screen perspectives. The viewers are deliberately left wondering what they're seeing. Then, once it's figured out, De Palma springs his "Gotcha!"
FEMME FATALE is a stylish, intelligent and sexy make-believe story for adults. Several scenes with Ms. Stamos are steamily erotic, made even more attention-grabbing by the chameleon-like quality of the Ash character. I mean, by late in the film, isn't she supposed to be the elegant and proper wife of the ... (Whoops! I almost revealed too much.) And while I didn't care much about his screen persona one way or the other, Banderas is solid in a supporting role as the clueless photographer who pays a big price for a couple of snaps.
As in THE SIXTH SENSE, there are clues that signpost the director's alternate reality. See the film and have some fun.