5.9/10
3,572
43 user 36 critic

8 ½ Women (1999)

Following the death of a mother, a father and son open up a brothel in their Genevan estate after watching (1963).

Director:

Peter Greenaway

Writer:

Peter Greenaway

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2 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
John Standing ... Philip Emmenthal
Matthew Delamere ... Storey Emmenthal
Vivian Wu ... Kito
Annie Shizuka Inoh ... Simato (as Shizuka Inoh)
Barbara Sarafian ... Clothilde
Kirina Mano Kirina Mano ... Mio
Toni Collette ... Griselda / Sister Concordia
Amanda Plummer ... Beryl
Natacha Amal ... Giaconda the Baby Factory
Manna Fujiwara Manna Fujiwara ... Giulietta / Half Woman
Polly Walker ... Palmira
Elizabeth Berrington ... Celeste, Emmenthal Maid
Myriam Muller Myriam Muller ... Marianne, Emmenthal Maid
Don Warrington ... Simon
Claire Johnston ... Amelia, Philip's Wife
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Storyline

After his wife dies, 55-year-old businessman Philip Emmenthal, at the prompting of his playboy son Storey, populates his Geneva villa with eight and a half concubines. Three are from Kyoto, where Storey manages Pachinco palaces. Each has a distinctive personality: a nun, a child bearer, a gambler, a student of Kabuki, a horsewoman with a pet pig, a maid. Philip throws off his strait-laced and repressed attitudes, immersing himself in pleasure. After about a year, the women begin to assert their own power. Side adventures pre-figure the household's breakup, and the women depart in one way or another, one at at time. Philip's fate is in the hands of Palmira, his favorite. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

If every man thinks of sex once every nine minutes, what does he think of the other eight? See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for strong sexual content including dialogue and pervasive nudity | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

UK | Netherlands | Luxembourg | Germany

Language:

English | Italian | Japanese | Latin

Release Date:

10 December 1999 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

8 femmes 1/2 See more »

Filming Locations:

Japan See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$92,000, 28 May 2000, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$417,517, 23 July 2000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.66 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

[All trivia items for this title are spoilers.] See more »

Quotes

Philip Emmenthal: Looking at my father's prick; I think that's what got me to study engineering... Watching his Eiffel Tower, his Empire State building, perhaps it's what made me a good engineer. The penis, if you think about it, is the greatest engineering feature imaginable... Hydraulics, compression, propulsion, heat sensibility... It has practically EVERY engineering characteristic. Towers, low bridges, rocket ships... there's no man-made engineering structure to match it. My father's anatomy instructed my ...
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Connections

References City of Women (1980) See more »

Soundtracks

On a Slow Boat to China
Written by Frank Loesser
Performed by John Standing, Matthew Delamere
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User Reviews

Women: Types and Missteps
24 July 2000 | by tedgSee all my reviews

A master visual allegorist reaches farther and fails. But not for the reasons others claim here. Greenaway has never centered his films in the narrative -- we'd always be frustrated to look for satisfaction there. (`Drowning' which among his works most delivers a story does so incidentally.) And this is a film about women, not sex, which will frustrate others.

Here is his most character-driven film. At last, he works on closeups and some character definition. The primary ordering of the film is by basic archetypes of women, particularly archetypes drawn by men. This is supposed to be his most painterly film: the representative women are to be presented in scenes that reference famous paintings. Greenaway has stated that painting cuts to the basic drivers in cultural revolution, and the representations of women therein are tokens for everything conceived. Women thus are both humans and basic tokens in the redefinition of life.

Such a rich conception is thoroughly Greenawayan and might have formed the skeleton for another masterpiece. Along the way, we have by now familiar devices. Numbers: random as in pachinko rather than ordered. Contrasts between Eastern (here just Japanese) and Western management of concept and image. Some slight use of layered images, here in the self-reference of displaying the screenplay.

My complaints are two. I consider them fatal, but still celebrate Greenaway.

The notion of archetype depends on clarity, a natural orthogonality and completeness of classes. Here we have the nun, whore, Chinadoll, servant, cripple, childbearer, fetishist, butch, and spontaneous addict. Time is invested in defining these. A few are singled out to be something more than props for lush compositions: the geisha chinadoll, the lesbian accountant, the gambler and the opportunistic, openly enthusiastic whore. But in bringing them to life, they escape their categories: two of these are male impersonators, another two financial manipulators, another two vamps. Three are Japanese. Usually, Greenaway's combination of painting (erudite structure and framing of scenes) and film (narrative, development) reinforce one another. Here, they dissonate.

The second problem may be more fundamental. You really have to know your stuff to enjoy these films. My knowledge of The Tempest is rather deep, so I saw how rich was `Prospero's Books.' I read up on restoration comedy for `Draughtsman,' and discovered art in the viewing that I presume no one else in the theater saw. This film is supposed to reference the feminine archetype not as defined by popular culture, but by the history of painting. My knowledge of the art is poor, so I cannot attest to how deep the annotations are here. (Little use is made here of the layered image and narrative comment. Wonder why, since it would have been so natural.

But I do know Gauguin, who also was a visual allegorist, who also worked with feminine archetypes and also the fascination with Asian differences. His monumental canvas `Where are We Going?' does just what this film purports.

I wonder if there is little there in this film.


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