If you fancy a Cluedo-style murder mystery, featuring a family patriarch as victim and the eight femmes fatales in his life as suspects, then you may like '8 Women'. If you liked 'Gosford Park', but would have preferred its subtle class commentary to be drowned out by farce, then you may like '8 Women'.
If you are intrigued by the notion of a film which brings together the great living French actresses from every generation (including Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emanuelle Beart, Fanny Ardant and Virgine Ledoyen), but squanders their talents on shallow characters who could come straight out of a pantomime, then you may like '8 Women'.
Veteran director Francois Ozon has contrived an exercise in postmodern high camp - a monochrome pastiche of the 1950s, all surface and no depth. The artificially limited setting and the conspicuous wordiness of the film betray its origins as a stage play. Ozon tries to create the illusion of variety by having his characters occasionally burst into popular song to express the intensity of their feeling (as in 'On Connait Le Chanson' or 'Everyone Says I Love You'). The first time this happens, it is funny enough, but it is not long before the incongruity of these musical interludes starts to grate, and the songs become as flat and unengaging as the dialogue from which they are designed to distract.
In short, '8 Women' is the kind of convenient Christmas movie to which you can safely take your grandmother - even if it means compromising your own (and possibly even her) pleasure. It is that terrible thing, a film which is inoffensive.
I did not like '8 Women'.
Anton Bitel (Unverified), 01/11/02
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