DIRECTOR: François Ozon | WRITERS: François Ozon, Marina de Van | CAST: Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Ludivine Sagnier, Firmine Richard | France
There’s high concept, and then there’s high concept. If an all female, color coordinated, murder mystery farce musical set in the 1950s and starring some of the biggest name French actresses currently working sounds even remotely promising to you, then you’ll probably love 8 Femmes. François Ozon manages to keep the production just this side of a drag revue and the self-referentiality quotient is kept in check for the most part, but subtle 8 Femmes ain’t, and despite myself I thought the movie was pretty entertaining. I commend Ozon for not trying to open up the play on which the film is based, and the frankly theatrical set and costumes are bright and cartoonish and delightful. The performances, though, are something of a mixed bag. Isabelle Huppert mugs outrageously and is bad even at that; her performance is crummy dinner theater quality. Danielle Darrieux is the only one in this bunch who can carry a tune but her performance is otherwise not particularly memorable. And what saves Catherine Deneuve is that it’s obvious she got a kick out of parodying herself. All the other actresses are fine, but if anyone steals the movie it’s Fanny Ardant: she’s just terrific.