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Marina de Van
One morning at an isolated mansion in the snowy countryside of 1950s France, a family is gathered for the holiday season. But there will be no celebration at all because their beloved patriarch has been murdered! The killer can only be one of the eight women closest to the man of the house. Was it his powerful wife? His spinster sister-in-law? His miserly mother-in-law? Maybe the insolent chambermaid or the loyal housekeeper? Could it possibly have been one of his two young daughters? A surprise visit from the victim's chic sister sends the household into a tizzy, encouraging hysterics, exacerbating rivalries, and encompassing musical interludes. Comedic situations arise with the revelations of dark family secrets. Seduction dances with betrayal. The mystery of the female psyche is revealed. There are eight women and each is a suspect. Each has a motive. Each has a secret. Beautiful, tempestuous, intelligent, sensual, and dangerous...one of them is guilty. Which one is it?Written by
Anthony Pereyra <email@example.com>
Francois Ozon directed this interesting and occasionally lighthearted film, "8 Women." It stars Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, Ludivine Sagnier, Virginie Ledoyen, and Firmine Richard.
The film takes place during a winter in 1950s France where a family congregates for the holidays. Unfortunately, Gaby's (Deneuve) husband is found dead with a knife in his back. Kind of killed the holiday spirit.
Since the dogs didn't bark, it must have been someone known to the family. They can't go to the police; the phone line was cut and they are snowed in.
As they try to figure out the identity of the murderer, we learn that each woman has a secret, which is revealed during the film. They all had motives.
Could it have been Augustin, the dead man's sister-in-law, who lives with the family? How about his beautiful wife? His mother-in-law who is confined to a wheelchair? The chambermaid who, when she lets her hair down, is even more stunning? Or perhaps the housekeeper, loyal but hiding a powerful love? One of his two daughters? His own sister, who runs a brothel? The women discuss who inherits, and multiple motives for murder, and little by little, rivalries, tears, passions, infidelities, and musical numbers emerge.
Ozon has given us a look into the female psyche, and he has employed some of France's great actresses to do it. The colors are bright, the women and clothing gorgeous.
As someone pointed out, the French do not fear casting older women. Danielle Darrieux was 85 when she made this film; She is now 98 and did a film in 2010. Some French people live a very long time - I think it's the wine.
Deneuve, 59 here, is stunning, very elegant and regal. Fanny Ardant as Pierette is gorgeous and sexy, displaying dry wit and disdain for convention. Emmanuelle Beart is the insubordinate, sexually adventurous (according to her) maid who transforms herself during the film, as does Augustin (Isabelle Huppert), the homely sister-in-law. Firmine Richard, a formidable black actress, does an impressive job with the role of Chanel, the housekeeper who finally reveals her secret.
They are all so wonderful -- French women to my mind have a very earthy, worldly quality as well as sophistication. When one thinks of some American actresses in comparison, they seem like plain vanilla. It's a generalization, I know, and we do have some fine actresses, but I think the mindset of American show business is focused on youth and typecasting.
This film is enjoyable because of the cast and the look of the movie. I can't say the music was fabulous or even fit this story. It was a touch of whimsy and the upbeat tunes were fun. There were some sad ones, too. C'est la vie.
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