8 Women (2002)
Director Francois Ozon, known for such films as Swimming Pool and Water Falls on Burning Rocks,departs from darker, more introspective themes to transform a 1972 play by Robert Thomas into a campy-chic film noir.
Featuring the interactions and indiscretions of eight women bound to one another in one house on a stormy winter’s day around Christmas, the film unfolds dualistically as a musical-comedy and murder mystery.
The most powerful element of the film is the immensity and distinctiveness of each of the female characters, due in no small part to a stellar cast including Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, Isabelle Huppert and Virginie Ledoyen.
Remarkably, each femme fatale sings her own song for the production. However, while the musical numbers were amusing, after about the third song the novelty started wearing off. Some of the acts were simply too loosely and weakly choreographed, resulting in somewhat of a jarring effect, shifting the emphasis from character to actress.
By comparison, Todd Haynes’ film Far From Heaven, deals with similar themes, arguably more effectively. Both films address the dysfunction in the social fabric of the 1950’s that was kept under a surface of appearances, making it more explicit. Likewise, the colors, make-up, and costumes are gloriously excessive in both films, however, the impact of the content of Orzon’s film is perhaps best delivered in a stage play.