Overblown and overdone, “Femme Fatale” is Brian DePalma’s muddled attempt at a Hitchcock thriller and one which never really works. The narrative is more complicated than “Mulholland Drive”, but whereas that film had both intriguing mystery and a possible solution – the massive changes of things in this get confusing and worse make the audience have no desire to even try to understand it. After what starts out as a slick and different than you might expect raid sequence (ie. lots of lesbian foreplay), the plot changes times and places with such a jump its easy to get lost.
DePalma’s usual tricks are in here with the first 40 minutes of the movie containing practically no dialogue, but after that things for some reason start making more sense. Indeed the opening act is such a switch and changer that its not until the action moves into its “seven years later” period that we start seeing signs of a movie. Banderas seems to be phoning this one in whilst Stamos does get to shine in certain moments including one hell of a sultry bar scene, but this is no Grace Kelly or Kim Novak – nowhere near the class or intrigue lies behind this blonde’s roots.
What helps save the film is its ending. Things start coming together and little elements which seem almost music video trite at times actually are shown with a meaning whilst Stamos’ character finds her personality changing frequently but she’s able to handle it. Its long and very odd, an almost Polanski wannabe which never really is. There’s no humour, no suspense, little drama, not much sex appeal and hardly any intrigue. All of those are essential ingredients for a slick thriller – this is missing them all.