Huit Femmes

The Department of Modern Languages has been showing movies in foreign languages for the past two weeks, and will for one more week. On Nov. 17, at Posner 343, they will be showing “The Perfect Candidate,” a Saudi Arabian movie about a young female Saudi doctor’s run for office in the local city elections that forces her family and community to accept their town’s first female candidate. It will be shown in Arabic with English subtitles.

The film I will be writing about here is “Huit Femmes” (“Eight Women”) by François Ozon, which was shown by the Department of Modern Languages on Nov. 10. It is a rare movie that manages to juggle polar opposite emotions perfectly. Laugh-out-loud hilarious moments will abound, and then be followed by a jaw-dropping dramatic moment, and then a musical scene! In this movie, eight women are stuck in a snow-covered cottage when the patriarch of the family is found dead. What ensues are revelations and revelations. I’d compare the movie to “Knives Out” and “Dial M For Murder”; however, these comparisons don’t do enough to portray how unique “Huit Femmes” really is. The aforementioned musical numbers somehow manage to feel fitting to their moments, whilst simultaneously being a complete surprise when they occur. Of course, the acting is also incredible, uniting some of the best French actresses of their respective generations. Danielle Darrieux plays Mamy, the supposedly infirm grandmother; Isabelle Huppert and Catherine Deneuve, legendary actresses already, deliver incredible performances as the two daughters; Emmanuelle Béart is the new, slightly scheming maid (and has the best musical number); Fanny Ardant acts as the victim’s estranged sister; Virginie Ledoyen portrays the victim’s daughter as well as the closest thing to a POV character of the film; Ludivine Sagnier is incredibly and authentically childish as the youngest daughter; and Firmine Richard as the slightly distant cook. All incredible portrayals in a resplendent picture.

The thematic values of the film are equally interesting. Importantly, there are — apart from a brief shot of the husband — absolutely no men in this movie. The air of suspicion prevalent throughout the film also gives an interesting layer to the queer undertones. “Huit Femmes” has been described as a jumble of references to classic movies and queer characters, yet despite all this, it is a truly interesting film that remains original even 20 years on from its release.