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Les femmes de l'ombre (2008)

TV-MA | | Drama, War | 5 March 2008 (France)
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In 1944, in London, Lieutenant Pierre Desfontaines assigns his sister Louise Desfontaines to convince three other women to form a five-woman task force under his command to rescue a British... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Louise Desfontaines
... Jeanne Faussier
... Suzy Desprez
... Gaëlle Lemenech
... Karl Heindrich
... Maria Luzzato
... Pierre Desfontaines
... Eddy
... Lieutenant Becker
Robin Renucci ... Melchior
... Claude Granville
... Colonel Maurice Buckmaster
Jurgen Mash ... Gerd Von Rundstedt
... Le géologue anglais
Alexandre Jazede ... René Bourienne
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Storyline

In 1944, in London, Lieutenant Pierre Desfontaines assigns his sister Louise Desfontaines to convince three other women to form a five-woman task force under his command to rescue a British geologist from a German hospital in the countryside. The geologist was assigned by Colonel Maurice Buckmaster in a reconnaissance mission of the soil of the beaches at Normandy for the D-Day and had been captured by the Germans. Louise and Pierre force the prostitute Jeanne Faussier that is imprisoned for murdering her pimp; the explosives expert Gaëlle Lemenech that misses action; and the former dancer and fiancé of Colonel Karl Heindrich, Suzy Desprez, using blackmail and unethical methods to fly to France and join the Italian agent Maria Luzzato in the assignment. They are well-succeeded but when they deliver the geologist to the British aeroplane, Pierre betrays the group. He forces the women to travel to Paris to kill Colonel Heindrich who suspects that the landing of the allied forces will be... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Drama | War

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5 March 2008 (France)  »

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Trivia

The film is "dedicated to the women who fought against Nazi barbarity". See more »

Goofs

The film portrays events leading up to the events of D-Day, yet the aircraft parachuting the girls into France displays invasion stripes, which were painted onto aircraft at the time of the D-Day landings to ease recognition of Allied aircraft. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Those Gals Really Are Something
18 July 2009 | by See all my reviews

This is a very exciting and effective film about female espionage agents of the British S.O.E. (Special Operations Executive) during World War II. It is ironical that it is the French, not the British, who made this film, in which only a few sentences of English are spoken. The English subtitles are really too rapid, I must point out. Apart from a few scenes set in England, the film effectively all takes place in Nazi Occupied France under the revolting Vichy Regime in 1944, where all the dangerous missions in the story take place. As the film proceeds, we realize that the underlying threat is that the secrets of the D-Day Normandy landings are in danger of being betrayed, thus destroying their surprise value and enabling the Nazis to win the War. So the stakes could not be higher. According to titles shown at the end of the film, this story is in many respects true, and the lead character played with tremendous, bitter panache by Sophie Marceau only died as recently as 2004 at the age of 98! As she was a French woman, though working as an agent for the SOE (and her brother worked for De Gaulle's Free French in London), that must explain why her story was known in France, and why it was French producers who decided to film it. The story as filmed contains countless inaccuracies of procedure and plot which could never really have happened, and some details are ridiculous (a sister and brother sent on the same mission together!?). So the story has been greatly hyped-up to 'Hollywoodize' it, by the French Hollywood, which we might perhaps call by the name of Tuileriewood-en-Seine, or Tile-Town as opposed to Tinsel-Town ('a night out on the tiles' being a good description for some Paris evenings). The film starts rather slowly, and one is not certain that it is going to work at first. But when it gets into its stride, it is gripping and coherent. There are many grisly scenes of torture by the Gestapo, which take a strong stomach, and seeing Nazis savagely and maniacally beating up women and nearly drowning them in water tanks, even pulling out their finger nails (this is done to the delicately beautiful actress Deborah Francois, who appears as fragile as the petals of a fluttering chamomile flower on a windy day), is more than merely upsetting. However, it was obviously decided by the producers that these pretty young women were to be treated with as much grit as men, both in their actions and in the depiction of their fates. It is no bad thing to remind viewers of how the Nazis behaved, and that they really did these things. There are some detailed touches which add to the horror of it all: a Gestapo woman clerk sits impassively at a small wooden table making notes, wholly unmoved by the agonized shrieks and screams of the women being tortured in front of her. As for the Nazi SS colonel supervising all of this and trying to get the information out of them, he could not be more bored and oblivious to the suffering and the screams, which to him are merely tedious. To the Nazis, torturing human beings was no different from stepping on ants. If it accomplishes nothing else, perhaps this film will make a few young people think for a moment about a War which to them is now 'long ago and far away', and why should they be interested. Just seeing a screen title informing us that the Gestapo's Paris Headquarters was in Avenue Foch is enough to precipitate a mild attack of hysteria. That is where all the billionaires now live in luxury. I have been in a couple of their grand houses, and all I can say is: 'Nom de Dieu!' And to think that it was in those surroundings, where the super-rich now besport themselves with their vintage Cristal champagne (I must admit it is delicious, but no one really needs it), that the Gestapo pulled out the finger nails of beautiful girls in their early twenties and thought nothing of it, merely finding their screams of pain a bore! Do see this film, if only to be horrified and appalled, but also to admire the courage of the women, not only the men, who gave their lives to defeat the greatest evil that befell a much-accursed earth during the 20th century, the regime of the monstrous instruments of Evil who dared to call themselves a Master Race.


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