Sunday, September 07, 2008

Les Femmes de l’Ombre (Female Agents)

Honestly this is the worst movie title translation I have seen lately (there are so many) as totally says nothing about what this movie really is, so let’s try the literal translation from French: Women from the Shadows… then think this is better: Women in the Shadows. Great, got that out of my system.

This Jean-Paul Salomé WWII period drama is one of the best I have seen lately, not only because it has a female lead cast but also because it tells a story inspired by true facts that is compelling, engaging, thrilling and for some, hard to see women doing all the things they do.

Tells a story about the French SOE (Special Operations Executive) that was directed from London and under British control. The Germans have taken prisoner an important British agent with vital information about D-Day and a special commando unit is formed to rescue him. Its leader is Pierre Desfontaines and he first recruits fellow SOE member and his sister, Louise Desfontaines (Sophie Marceau). They have to recruit other members and to do so Louise lies, blackmails and offers pardon. Why?

Well, because the other women in the all-women commando unit are: Jeanne (Julie Depardieu) a prostitute that is in jail for murder, Suzy (Marie Gillain) an ex-showgirl working under an assumed name, and Gaëlle (Déborah François) a naïve and religious explosives expert, all are basically recruited because their background and for being French. When they are in France they are joined by another member, Maria (Maya Sansa), a Jewish Italian radio operator posing as a nurse.

The unit parachutes in France and from the moment they touch land the story develops in the most unexpected way, with everything that could go wrong going that way. But obviously is not that simple and be prepared for the most interesting war story you probably have ever seen that revolved around mainly women.

Perhaps I will spoil a little the movie, but the beginning of the movie seems quite uninteresting as rapidly and successfully they rescue the man. Is really after the rescue and “revealing” the other secret mission, when the movie truly changes and becomes outstandingly engaging.

Performances are good, but Sophie Marceau really carries the movie in her shoulders and does it quite well. By the way her character is the fictional recount of a real life woman and it has been said that her obituary was the real inspiration for this film. After you see this amazing movie I suggest you read the obituary that is here as it’s quite interesting.

The movie has good tech specs and impressive everyday costumes, make-up, etc. that really gives the feeling that you’re transported to 1944 and in general is also a faithful recreation of life during wartime.

Honestly this is a terrific homage to women and war, and as the French title suggests it is true that for many years historians and/or movies have kept in “shadows” what some women did. I strongly suggest to all women in the world to not miss this movie, but I know that men will also will like it and some will be as surprised as those that have left their comments in many languages in the net.

This amazing war drama is absolutely for all mature audiences that enjoy strong, fast paced, thrilling and surprisingly good movies and I strongly suggest that you consider this movie as must be seen.

Especially for a good friend that reads this blog and that discovered here the Zwartboek (Black Book) movie, I highly recommend to not miss this movie that is a lot better than the already good Black Book and perhaps I should warn that this is a little more violent.


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