FILM

French Cinema: 8 Femmes

8 Femmes (8 Women), 2002
Director: Francois Ozon

I used to work at a video store, and as I was planning on attending the French Film Festival this year (but didn’t make it, sadly), I ended up watching a few French films leading up to it. A lot of people seem to think watching foreign films makes you a pseudo intellectual or a snob or just a weirdo, but I really like to watch foreign films (sometimes) just for something different, like a breath of fresh air.

Set in the snowy French countryside in the 1950s, 8 Women is part black comedy, part murder mystery with musical interludes. With a black comedic style that only French cinema can pull off, 8 Femmes entertains while delving into the female psyche.


When patriarch Marcel is found murdered in his bedroom one morning, the eight women living in the mansion begin a frantic investigation into his death, each one of them a suspect. Snowed in, with the phone lines cut and the car engine sabotaged, none can leave until the murderer is caught out.
Is it his glamourous wife Gaby (Catherine Deneuve)? Her mother or spinster sister? His estranged sister, Pierette, who has just arrived in town? The new maid or the faithful housekeeper? Or one of his two daughters?

Although at first it took me a while to adjust to the comedic style, I was soon engrossed in the story line as motives and secrets are revealed by each of the eight women. Previously I was only really familiar with French actresses such as Juliet Binoche (Chocolat), Clemence Poesy (Harry Potter & Gossip Girl), Audrey Tatou (Amelie, Priceless) and Marion Cotillard (Inception), so 8 Femmes was also cool because I discovered a number of other talented actresses across a few generations, that I had before only heard of maybe once or twice ( or in the case of Catherine Deneuve, heard of many times, but had never seen her work).


Catherine Deneuve ( who is starring in the opening night film of the French Film Festival, Pontiche) , Isabelle Huppert, Danielle Darrieux, Emmanuelle Beart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Ludivine Sagnier and Firmine Richard are all extremely talented and respected French actresses which many of us are probably not aware of, yet have won Cesars ( French equivalent of an Oscar) and other prestigious awards. It’s amazing how great the language barrier can be. Never fear, subtitles are here! I swear some people are just afraid of them because they’re too slow at reading. After a while you hardly notice them, and thinking back on the movie you can almost hear the dialogue in the respective actresses voice. Subtitles aren’t so scary after all.

There is something slightly off-kilter yet undoubtedly elegant about French cinema that I can’t quite grasp, but love to watch. A few little “risque” surprises or lines of dialogue fit seamlessly into the otherwise “respectable” storyline that Hollywood wouldn’t can’t pull off – in Hollywood, it often seems to be all or nothing.
It’s certainly grown on me not only during the movie, but post-viewing as well. At first I wasn’t sure if I was even going to blog about it, yet here I am singing it’s praises. Not a fan of the musical interludes, but that is the beauty of foreign film – there is always something that doesn’t align with your expectations, something that rubs you the wrong way.
Overall, I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would at first, to the extent I would even watch it again. Magnifique!


There is something slightly off-kilter yet undoubtedly elegant about French cinema that I can’t quite grasp, but love to watch. A few little “risque” surprises or lines of dialogue fit seamlessly into the otherwise “respectable” storyline that Hollywood wouldn’t can’t pull off – in Hollywood, it often seems to be all or nothing.
It’s certainly grown on me not only during the movie, but post-viewing as well. At first I wasn’t sure if I was even going to blog about it, yet here I am singing it’s praises. Not a fan of the musical interludes, but that is the beauty of foreign film – there is always something that doesn’t align with your expectations, something that rubs you the wrong way.
Overall, I actually enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would at first, to the extent I would even watch it again. Magnifique!

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