It's no secret that a Brian DePalma film is to cinema what a George Bush speech is to oratory. And maybe it's okay to follow the postmodern muse the way a male alley cat pursues a female in heat. However, after a while, one must question whether DePalma is capable of doing anything that isn't predictably reflective of something else. If his latest film is any indication, that answer is a "NO" so resounding that it's producing ripples in the spinal fluid of every aspiring filmmaker in L.A.
Though I rip on DePalma, the sad thing is that this hasn't exactly been a secret for the last ten years. Film critics snicker and release muted praise for a "Body Double" or a "Blow-Out" like a parent applauding a child's first trip on a bicycle. However, if 20 years later the full-grown man is still riding around on the bicycle looking for applause from Mommy, you gotta ask the simple question: "Is little Brian retarded?"
"Femme Fatale" opens as Laure Ash watches "Double Indemnity," as if this homage constitutes respect even though the film that follows sucks more wang than Ken Lay on his first day in prison. Laure is embroiled in a jewelry theft that involves danger, lesbian kissing (always good for a couple extra million at the box office) and a musical score so similar to Ravel's "Bolero" that one has to wonder if there's also an homage to "10," what it might be, and why in the world one would want to do such a thing in the first place. The film skips around in time until Laure ends up back in Paris (the locale of the theft) with her life threatened and a pesky photographer (Antonio Banderas) nipping at her heels.
To make matters worse, DePalma employs the most overused and disliked plot twist in the history of storytelling. If such a thing made the fans of "Dallas" cry like colicky babies, imagine how DePalma aficionados will feel when presented with this sophisticated device. It's like ordering a glass of wine and being served urine. This, apparently, is what DePalma has been doing his whole career, bottling his waste products and promoting them as art, and filmgoers are beginning to realize that something doesn't taste quite right.
To spread the word about this Femme Fatale review on Twitter.To get instant updates of Mr. Cranky reviews, subscribe to our RSS feed.