5.9/10
3,613
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 is supposed to think of sex once every nine minutes, what on earth does he think of in 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

Palmira: You can say with safety that nowadays women have finally acknowledged their position of not liking men. We could say now that women don't like men. They can acknowledge that they prefer the company of their own kind. I think we can also say generally that most men do not like other men. Most men prefer to like women. So women are the most liked by the most people. Men love women, women love children, and children love hamsters. A one-way slide. There is little going back the other way. Can ...
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Connections

References Salò, or the 120 Days of Sodom (1975) See more »

Soundtracks

Sosaku Yoshiwara
(Kabuki music)
Written by Hirokazu Sugiura
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User Reviews

 
Better than its Reputation
28 June 2004 | by KrustallosSee all my reviews

Despite being hissed at Cannes this film is still well worth seeing. I purchased the DVD and the more I watch it the better I like it. For a start, as with all Greenaway's work since The Falls, the photography is ravishing. I don't think anyone makes films which look better.

What few have picked up on is that (as well as an attempt to pick up Fellini's 8 1/2-ball and run with it), this is almost a remake of "A Zed and Two Noughts". Both films study bizarre responses to bereavement. both films play on doubling, in this case a father and son rather than two brothers. Both films touch on bestiality (with animals called Hortense!), gynecology, sex with amputees, a menagerie (in this case of women rather than animals), prostitution, uses of light, storytelling, and the colours black and white.

Where that film referenced painting, this references performance in many guises - cinema, kabuki, cross-dressing, opera, television, prostitution, as well as painting.

Contrary to at least one other user comment, there is no sexual intercourse shown in the film, although there is a quantity of nudity. It's very odd, if perhaps unsurprising, that this film has been sold as a sexy movie. SexIST? Well, confusing an ironic depiction of men's sexual fantasies with a reduction of women to the level of fantasy is 'politically correct' laziness at best. And as with most of Greenaway's films, the women are the winners in the end.

One reason this is harder work than the earlier film is the lack of Michael Nyman's ravishing music. I'm not sure why Greenaway stopped working with Nyman; possibly he felt he was stuck in a rut - perhaps he was nettled by charges that any old footage looked like Greenaway if you played Nyman's music behind it. Either way, he's yet to arrive at a truly satisfactory alternative. Here we have "Slow Boat to China" sung a capella by the two leads, rather after the manner of Morecambe and Wise. It's quite funny, but it's not the marriage of sound and image of earlier films.

The extent to which Philip Emmenthal represents Greenaway himself is perhaps worth considering. A character makes reference to Fellini having Mastroianni make love to all the women Fellini couldn't, and asks whether all directors make films to fulfil their own sexual fantasies. Emmenthal is notably the same age as Greenaway.

He may not be sweeping the art-house scene before him these days (in fact there's not much of an art-house scene left these days), but in the end, even below-par Greenaway is better than 99% of directors can even aspire to.


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