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8 Women

By Richard Gorelick | Posted

If the editorial board of Cahiers du cinéma adapted a queer-studies paper about Douglas Sirk and the role of artifice in American cinema of the 1950s, it might look like this. At a snowbound country house, a man is discovered with a knife in his back, and any one of the title characters might be his murderer. Having directed Charlotte Rampling memorably in the recent Under the Sand, director François Ozon has octupled his efforts, casting eight legendary French actresses in a mammoth piece of marzipan meant to be enjoyed because of its artifice. Considering that the actresses have been directed to play it big (no chaise goes unchewed), and all eight characters get to perform solo Franco-poppy musical numbers, the question on most filmgoers' minds won't be "Is this any good" but "Is this working?" A lot of the time it does work--the murder solution is satisfying, and there's a magnificent make-out scene--but that's never the right question.

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