8 Women

Director: François Ozon

(2002| 106 minutes| 15PG)

The cream of France’s cinema sirens star in this sparkling murder mystery set with ornate performances that play up the public images of the actresses themselves. At Christmastime, eight women find themselves snowbound in a house with a dead man—a man each of them (his wife, sister, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, daughters, housekeeper, and chambermaid) had reason to kill. Secrets tumble forth, accusations fly, catfights flare, and confrontations turn steamy, all accompanied by campy performances of 1960s French pop songs. Catherine Deneuve, Danielle Darrieux, Virginie Ledoyen, Fanny Ardant, Emmanuelle Beart, Isabelle Huppert, Ludivine Sagnier, and Firmine Richard are all superb, investing their cardboard characters with a strange emotional resonance—and their costumes are exquisite. The artificiality is so jolly that we’re not surprised when the first song begins, because 8 Women is in no sense serious: it’s an elaborate, entrancing excuse to have fun with its cast.

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