Viewed on 19 Aug 03   The currently screening FEMME FATALE is a loose remake of Andre Guttfreund's very mediocre 1991 original, however this time around, Brian De Palma takes the helm.  De Palma decides, however, not to run with the original multiple-personality-disorder cop-out, and goes instead with the prescient-dream-comes-true cop-out.  A 500-pound gorilla with a new haircut is still a 500-pound gorilla...
Continuing his twelve-year losing streak, Brian De Palma desperately tries every trick in the book.  He reuses his now-famous split screens, he runs us past the gamut of "formula" film-noire shticks, he tortures us with intentionally fractured artsy-phartsy plot development, he titillates us with kinky sex and soft porn scenes, and he insures the film has ample gratuitous shock-value violence.  But, as they say, it's not about knowing the tricks of the trade, it's knowing the trade itself - but shouldn't De Palma already know this better than anyone?  But in the final analysis, it is not what he did, so much as what he failed to do.  A director should never direct and produce, or write, or act in his own film.  The reason, Mr. De Palma, is because you are not that good - no one is.  The trail of cinematic failures due to egomaniacal Hollywood directors thinking they could be all things to all people is too long and strewn with bodies to be coincidence.  Hint -hire a good screenwriter, Mr De Palma.  Please.
FEMME FATALE begins with a poor-man's Ocean's Eleven-style heist scene meant to build tension and titillate us at the same time.  It ends up doing neither.  The complicated bait-and-switch scheme to heist the diamonds is so contrived and so dependent on a series of unlikely ruses, that the audience flatly refuses to suspend disbelief.  De Palma, realizing this, attempts to distract us with lesbian lust, which, as it works out, is unnecessary and contradictory, as both women are in on the heist to begin with.  This, Mr De Palma, is called a fatal plot-development failure.
LEAST   Enduring Line or Phrase:  "Are you trying to pick me up...?"
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