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8 Women

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
8 Women
from Film Forum, 10/03/02

8 Women is a new French comedy that has perhaps the most impressive collection of onscreen talent so far this year. Like Gosford Park, it packs a house with large personalities and turns them loose amid the chaos of a murder mystery. Formidable French actresses Isabelle Huppert (La Ceremonie, Amateur), Emanuelle Beart (Manon of the Spring, La Belle Noiseuse, Mission: Impossible), Catherine Deneuve (Belle de Jour, Indochine), Fanny Ardent (Elizabeth, Ridicule), and several others are drawing raves for their fiery performances.

Gerri Pare (Catholic News) says the film is "a delightful, campy experience until the tone darkens considerably by the second half, capped off by a violent act that renders the film unpleasantly nihilistic. And so we are left with one-dimensional characters of no depth whose infidelities and cruelties are of no consequence as long as they continue to look glamorous."

Tom Snyder (Movieguide) goes beyond judging the film to judging the director (and anyone who enjoys the film): "It wouldn't be surprising if the writer and director, Francois Ozon, were wasted on drugs when he conceived of adapting this play by Robert Thomas. This mishmash just doesn't work, unless you're a jaded, politically correct, pagan humanist with nothing better to do."

Mainstream critics praised certain aspects of the film. David Poland says, "The blinding-bright art direction and costume design are candy-box precious but always an eyeful. It's Divas on Parade, with performances both delightful and deranged."

Ebert says, "I dare not reveal a shred of the plot. And the movie is all plot—that, and stylish behavior, and barbed wit, and those musical numbers. Watching [it], you have a silly grin half of the time. Movies like 8 Women are essentially made for movie-lovers. You have to have seen overdecorated studio musicals, and you have to know who Darrieux and Deneuve and Beart and Huppert and Ardant are, to get the full flavor."