8 Femmes {aka 8 Women} (2002) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

What a strange picture this is. Start with a familiar premise: a man is found stabbed to death in a remote, snowbound country estate. The only  possible killers are eight women, all of whom are trapped together in the rural home. During the course of the day, as they wait for the police to arrive, each of the women reveals disturbing secrets about her relationship with the deceased man, and each seems to be a suspect.

There's nothing unusual about that except for the fact that it's a musical farce! Six or seven times in the film, all the action stops so that somebody can sing a full-length song. There's a lot of entertainment in this crazy movie. See Catherine Deneuve hit an old lady over the head and roll her in the closet. See Fanny Ardant and Deneuve in a catfight. See eight classic beauties of the French cinema just have a good time acting hammy and obviously enjoying themselves. The situations are not meant to be taken seriously. Hell, the revelations in this film would seem implausible and melodramatic to the writers of Days of our Lives. Just about all the women (including his daughter) admit to a sexual relationship with the dead man, and each other! The old lady admits to killing her own husband, the father of Deneuve and Huppert.

The women in the cast encompass nearly the entire history of French cinema. Here are the seven most famous ones, and their birthdates:

Danielle Darrieux 1917
Catherine Deneuve 1943
Fanny Ardant 1949
Isabelle Huppert 1955
Emmanuelle Béart 1965
Virginie Ledoyen 1976
Ludivine Sagnier 1979

85 year old Danielle Darrieux has had quite a career: 71 years in the movies. She made her first movie in 1931, about the same time as Humphrey Bogart. She was in approximately 30 movies before Deneuve, the second-oldest star, was born!


Only 47 year old Isabelle Huppert showed any flesh, and that only a brief look at her butt from the side.

The director of the film is Francois Ozon. It wasn't so long ago that he was France's latest cinema wunderkind. He made his first film when he was 20. He's still only 35, and although he hasn't come up with a single great triumph to match his fellow boy genius, Orson Welles (Welles finished his first short, Hearts of Age, when he was 19, and had Citizen Kane in the can before he turned 27), Ozon's career output has been consistently good , and consistently improving. His last two films, this and Under the Sand, have been his most admired.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Widescreen anamorphic 1.85:1. Good transfer.

 I liked Under the Sand very much, but I'm not so sure about this one. Actually, I'm not sure how much the director really contributed to this film. The sets and costumes are bright and colorful, but you have to be aware that this was originally a stage play with a single set, so there's only so much that the director could have done with the film. It's not really a director's film, but a performer's showcase, and about half of the camera shots are either filmed musical numbers or facial close-ups. There are too many close-ups, but how could any man do otherwise when he has some of the greatest beauties in the world to photograph. (Especially the exotic Beart, who  looked incredibly seductive with blonde hair.)

The Critics Vote

  • General consensus: three stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 3.5/4, Entertainment Weekly B, BBC 4/5. Berardinelli picked it in his Top 10 of 2002.

  • The film was nominated for 12 Cesar awards, but was snubbed completely by the Oscars.

  • Rotten Tomatoes summary. 78% positive, average 6.9/10. 78% of the reviews were positive, but the dissents were very strong dissents. Jonathan Foreman of the NY Post gave it one star, as did reel.com. Filmcritic.com said only two stars out of five.

  • movies.yahoo.com. average grade: B. Yahoo still has lots of problems in their evaluative system. For example, Jonathan Foreman of teh NY Post gave the film his minimum score and panned it harshly - they called that a C-!!

The People Vote ...

  • Considering that it is a subtitled musical, it grossed a respectable $3 million in the USA. It was a solid hit in France, with a $19 million gross in that country.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, I say it is a C+ (assuming you don't speak French). Very original concept with a great cast and colorful photography, but it's a musical revue in French with subtitles, so it's only for a very tiny target audience. I wasn't much impressed with the music at all (I'm being charitable - it's awful, but I think it is deliberately bad - a bit of tongue in cheek campiness used to make fun of overproduced musicals), but it's an entertaining farce if you can laugh at lines written in subtitles, and actually a pretty good whodunit underneath the jokes. Probably a B for French speakers, since it was nominated for 12 Cesars and also did well at the box office.

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