Femme Fatale Brian De Palma

Femme Fatale Brian De Palma
Master director Brian De Palma (Blow Out, Carrie) assembles all the ingredients for an excellent thriller, but the end result turns out burnt on the outside and undercooked on the inside. The film opens with a diamond heist at the Cannes film festival, as a high-tech team of French thieves pursue a model clad in little more than the jewels — Laure Ash (Rebecca Romijin-Stamos) seduces and undresses her in order to make off with the loot. It's a steamy premise filled with De Palma tension and the promise of a twisted journey to come — a classic thriller where red herrings and misdirection add up to a surprising conclusion. Instead, the film almost immediately veers off the rails, as Ash disappears under a new identity, emerging back in France seven years later as the mysterious wife of an American diplomat (Peter Coyote), pursued by a photographer (Antonio Banderas) and her double-crossed partners in crime. What follows is so dishonest, so unbelievable and so farfetched that it's the cinematic equivalent of a swindle itself. Where De Palma has, in the past, used his considerable skills as a magician, here it's merely a distraction while your pocket gets picked. Romijin-Stamos, as the titular femme fatale — a film noir term for a sexually liberated, powerful bad girl — shows (and shows) that her power derives only from her hot bod, which De Palma lewdly and repeatedly films like a leering old man. Powerful liberation this is not. Tellingly, the DVD invites you to "get voyeuristic" with some featurettes that add nothing — one of them, called "Dressed To Kill," is nothing more than a montage of what the women in the film are not quite wearing. Extras: four featurettes; trailers. (Warner)