Review

  • As I read the comments I can't help wonder how is it possible nobody thought this movie is an essay on cinema as well as a re-read of De Palma's own creations and obsessions. The questions on the board suggest that almost nobody pay attention even to the plot. 21 years before, "Blow Out", De Palma's most transparent reference to cinema craftsmanship and the relations between cinema and reality, and, what is most important, to cinema as knowledge (or even revelation), merged from an almost hopeless vision of the world: at the end of the film, Jack Terry, the character played by Travolta, had found the truth, but the price he paid for it is loneliness and madness maybe (just like Hackman at the end of Coppola's "The Conversation"); revelation is for him a sort of curse as he lost his second chance (one of the director's recurrent themes) as far as reality made the grade with its web of lies and corruption. "Femme fatale" shows that De Palma get older and wiser: even though reality is as corrupted and plenty of lies as two decades before, his faith on cinema as knowledge (what is cinema but a dream?) is stronger than then. He also has change his point of view about women. This turn, that started with "Carlito's Way" and even more on "Snake Eyes", is evident here, as he shows his own change of mind through a character that goes from his old kind of female character to the new one. (And those who wonder about the snake, read the Bible --Genesis.) At the very beginning of the movie, Laure's reflection on the tv screen reunites she and Barbara Stanwyck as the summa and the evolution of the femme fatale kind of character. That "DOUBLE indemnity" starts a game of doubles along the movie. Later, when the character of Lily appears, there's a choice to be made: Laure (of course, the reference is to Preminger's "Laura" though the film pays clearer homage to Hitchock's "Vertigo") has to decide to became Phyllis Dietrichson or to became Lily. The "dream strategy" is full of risk; in fact, when a writer/director uses it as a solution, the task is condemned to failure. But De Palma uses it masterfully, because dream is not a solution but a way: there are ten minutes of movie left after it to give that "dream strategy" a new sense and a justification that any film ever gave. As I wrote before, that dream is built as a movie watch by both audience and Laure. But the collage made by Banderas character is also a movie: a frame by frame (or scene by scene) construction of a reality that is out-of-time of that reality. De Palma, at the end of the film, tell us: that is what cinema is made of -different scenes shot under diverse lights in separate times, joined under one look and put together to make sense. We, as spectators, are the ones that can contemplate that work finished, and this final revelation, as the one at the end of "Citizen Kane", ask us to be able to join the pieces and reach knowledge cinema can give. There is a lot to write about this movie; these are only silly notes compared to the type of study "Femme Fatale" deserves. For those who are not interested on analysing a movie and just want to know if they will have fun watching it, I can only say that you can enjoyed the movie, with its twists and its suspense, even if you don't notice what I am talking about. "Femme Fatale" is an underrated masterpiece. Long live Brian De Palma (even if he has to live in France).