‘Fatal Woman‘, which right now you have available on Amazon Prime, is the last great movie by Brian De Palma, although it took 20 years for some to realize it. Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romijn put all their talent at the service of the teacher.
The Panic Photographer
Written and directed by Brian De Palma, there is nothing. ‘Femme Fatale’ is the first film he wrote and directed since the magnificent ‘In the Name of Cain’ ten years earlier. Among the many great virtues of the film, the main one is the one that makes his most personal works great: “You can’t worry about that,” replied the filmmaker when asked about the audience.
The big studios feared De Palma almost as much as Robert Downey Jr. before changing their habits. Technical director, obsessed and meticulous to the point of sickness, it had already crashed before. ‘Bonfire of the Vanities’ or ‘Mission to Mars’ were great fiascos that shook the foundations of the industry. And this movie wasn’t meant to be a box office buster.
But since the director does not care about all that, after the space odyssey he dedicates himself body and soul to ‘Femme Fatale’, a film where they are cataloged the vices, virtues and obsessions of the entire career of the director. And they are also powerful, completely revitalized. It’s like a greatest hits remastered. Like the encyclopedia De Palma illustrated. Here we have the ‘Double Body’ dance, the usual manipulation of memories, photographic images … there is even a coup that seems planned by the mission impossible force.
‘Femme Fatale’ is the ultimate trick, the final trick of a fascinating conjurer who has decided that this is his latest personal, excessive and perverse work. Thus, the film is from this point of view a film marked by two great elements: Ravel’s bolero by Riuichy Sakamato and the immense photographic canvas on the wall by Nicolas Bardo (Antonio Banderas), because the determining factor is the filmmaker’s ability to move between different identities and realities of its main character.
Laure is the one-dimensional incarnation of all the fatal women of film noir, and in fact she appears reflected on a television that shows the Barbara Stanwyck of ‘Perdition‘, one of the great classics of the genre. In addition, De Palma continues to pay homage to (as always) Alfred Hitchcock through constant themes and elements. In fact we should take for granted that the whole plot of ‘Femme Fatale’ is a McGuffin, a mere excuse for De Palma to be able to play with tension-filled sequences incredibly elaborate.
Redemption, the second chance, paradise and hell through the eyes of the voyeur who has now become paparazzi are themes that constitute the quintessence of Palma cinema. That is why ‘Femme Fatale’ can be disconcerting (have I seen it before, where?) And can even provoke rejection with this paradoxically pure referential mix. When De Palma is put on autopilot he is able to deliver a tribute to film noir brilliant while reaffirming himself as one of the essential authors of the last 50 years. Little joke, huh.