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:: 8 Femmes

8 Femmes is set around the murder of Marcel, one idyllic morning in the snowy mountain countryside. It is discovered that the phone line is dead and the dogs have not barked at all during the night, which can only mean one thing… the murderer is in the house!

Director, Francois Ozon (Under the Sand), adapts and directs this wonderfully pure nostalgic comedy/murder mystery/musical based on the 1960s crime play on the same name.

Originally intending to remake Cukor’s classic The Women (unfortunately finding out that the rights have been purchased by Julia Roberts & Meg Ryan, so brace yourself for that Hollywood remake), Ozon fortunately discovered 8 Femmes, written by Robert Thomas in the 70s. With a few mirror character and setting changes in place, Ozon relocated the mystery to the 1950s French countryside.

Focussing on the matriarchs of the family, where one amongst them is the murderer, 8 Femmes unveils a rich subtext where the characters reveal more about themselves through song than what intended. The musical aspect of 8 Femmes seems quite jarring at first, however like most musicals, takes a while to settle into in order to purely enjoy the interior monologues that are sung by each of the eight women.

The magnificent costume and set design are strikingly bold and colourful, reminiscent of Douglas Sirk’s melodramas, appropriately capturing the artificiality of the style and era that Ozon attempts to evoke.
The actresses portraying the eight women are all great in their own rights, especially the luminous Catherine Deneuve as the wife Gaby, Isabelle Huppert as her uptight and neurotic sister Augustine and Fanny Ardant as Marcel’s sensuous sister Pierrette. All eight women span different generations, including Gaby’s daughters Suzon (Virginie Ledoyen) and Catherine (Ludivine Sagnier) and her mother Mrs. Chanel (Firmine Richard) including class, colour and sexuality.

In the end so much is revealed about the eight women that the murderer is almost irrelevant and at times an annoying loose thread that best be forgotten.
A wonderfully entertaining musical comedy that is beautiful to look at whilst capturing the decadence of the naïve and seemingly innocent era of the 50s.