Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:
- Bertrand Blier Films
- French Films
- Living Nightmare
- Satires and Spoofs
Response to Peary’s Review:
In his review of this mind-bending “cult comedy” (a.k.a. Calmos) by director Bertrand Blier, Peary’s first wry comment is that it “would probably cause more arguments if anyone could figure out what it’s about.” He argues that the film has a “promising beginning”, but then “takes an odd, foolish turn, moving out of a rudely funny, believable realm… into a confusing surreal fantasy”. He takes issue with Blier’s decision to have the men “become sexual objects to be used and humiliated” by women who “become the aggressors [and] think that men are only good for one thing”, and notes that Blier still “treats his actresses in the old-fashioned way, as impersonal sexual entities”. What Peary fails to recognize, however, is that Blier (as usual) is simply taking his bizarrely conceived scenario to the ultimate limit, without concern for either reality or propriety. This is, after all, a film about “misogynistic, gross, irresponsible, superior” men, and it’s their warped world view we’re seeing on display here; everything that happens — a true living nightmare — is told from their perspective, and while it may not be “believable” by any stretch of the imagination, it’s far from confusing.
Instead, scene after scene will simply leave you gaping in wonderment at the sheer audacity of Blier’s vision: Marielle (who keeps loaves of bread in his desk drawer at work, and accepts gifts of pate from his patients) finding his pre-appointment snack ruined by a gorgeous female client loudly scratching her genitalia; Marielle comforting Rochefort (the closest they get to homoerotic love) as he wakes up from a nightmare about women (“They bug me even in my sleep!”); Marielle and Rochefort gorging on rich food and wine with some local priests who have temporarily taken them under their wing; Brigitte Fossey (Marielle’s beautiful wife) trying in vain to tempt him into bed; and countless others. The final sequence — which goes above and beyond the film’s prior level of perversity — is guaranteed to leave you floored, if not mildly queasy (which, I imagine, may have been Blier’s intent). Ultimately, Femmes Fatales is a film which needs to be seen to be believed; and while it certainly won’t be for all tastes, it’s unique enough to be must-see viewing at least once for all film fanatics.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Jean-Pierre Marielle as Paul Dufour
- Jean Rochefort as Albert
- Brigitte Fossey as Marielle’s wife
- Countless memorable sequences
- Claude Renoir’s vibrant cinematography
- Georges Delerue’s jazzy score
Yes, as a most unique and entertaining film.