Saturday, April 2, 2011

Toi Jamais

BAMcinematek has been presenting a series of Catherine Deneuve films every day of this month. Each night is different, and I decided to sneak off to BAM on Wednesday for the 2002 musical, comedic, mystery-farce film 8 femmes. I have to say that Catherine Deneuve still looks incredible for her age, and every part the legend. Her song solo "Toi Jamais" proved that she only has the acting talent in her package but a sultry, easy voice to boot. Damn those Libras. And remember how young she was in Belle du Jour? Deneuve is a completely different woman now.

Let's not forget Fanny Ardant either, who I first saw in Kapur's Elizabeth as Mary of Guise. They say that supporting actresses are sometimes more important than leading actresses (was that Shakespeare that suggested that?), since they reveal the protagonists. Although I am an avid fan of Cate Blanchett, Ardant's fifteen minute screentime in Elizabeth was so memorable --- particularly the scene where she wipes the blood off of a young, twelve year old soldier on the battlefield and sends him back to the Queen of England. "Tell that bastard Queen not to send children to fight Mary of Guise!" Ardant's dialogue with Geoffrey Rush before he beds her and assassinates her creates a quick screen moment where we see Ardant's sly seductive smile. When I saw that smile again in 8 femmes, it was like a deer hitting a car windshield. I, and apparently much of the cyber world, cannot get enough of how Ardant smokes those long cigarettes in the film, all the while smiling slyly. Did she or didn't she kill Marcel?

The film's plot and suspense reads like an Agatha Christie novel, and the comedic timing is like a Woody Allen film. The entire cast is rarely on-screen altogether at the same time, and there are no Jean Renoir long camera shots here, which builds up a type of whodunit suspense. The movie's vintage 50's/60's style is also Hitchcock-like in how there is an implied association between shots, almost like a game of Clue. (Was it the maid with the knife in the bedroom? Or Miss Scarlett in the dining room with the revolver?) And since the movie is a about women, Francois Ozon couldn't forget to throw in the French knack for unexpected twists by making sure Deneuve and Ardant have a lesbian moment.

And from the first picture in my post, you can tell whose shoes belong to who --- each pair as diverse as each individual vixen. Ironic, non? Despite any murderer's attempt to hide the trails left behind of a crime, a person's all-encompassing individuality is like a signia. There is no denying who that person is or what you can expect them to do or what they could have the potential to do without you eventually being lead to them...even if they have a few dark secrets along the way. I also just love all the colors and patterns in this film! I guess it's only appropriate now that Prada and Jil Sander's collections use so much of it this Spring right?