Female Agents

Female Agents

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jean-Paul Salomé
Produced by Éric Névé
Written by Laurent Vachaud
Jean-Paul Salomé
Music by Bruno Coulais
Cinematography Pascal Ridao
Edited by Marie-Pierre Renaud
Distributed by TFM Distribution (France)
Revolver Entertainment (UK)
Release dates
  • 5 March 2008 (2008-03-05) (France)
  • 27 June 2008 (2008-06-27) (UK)
Running time
108 minutes
Country France
Language French

Female Agents (French: Les Femmes de l'ombre) is a 2008 French historical drama film directed by Jean-Paul Salomé and starring Sophie Marceau, Julie Depardieu, Marie Gillain, Déborah François, and Moritz Bleibtreu.[1] Written by Salomé and Laurent Vachaud, the film is about female resistance fighters in the Second World War. Jean-Paul Salomé, the director, drew inspiration from an obituary in The Times newspaper[2] of Lise de Baissac (Lise Villameur), from Mauritius (then a British colony), one of the few recognised heroines of the SOE, named "Louise Desfontaines" in the film and played by Sophie Marceau. The film was partly funded by BBC Films.


In May 1944 Louise Desfontaines (Sophie Marceau), a member of the French Resistance, flees to Spain after her husband is killed, where she is captured and later expatriated to London. She is recruited by the Special Operations Executive (SOE), the secret spy and sabotage service initiated by Winston Churchill. Louise is given an urgent first mission: to extricate a British agent who has fallen into German hands while preparing the invasion of Normandy. The agent has not yet revealed anything but time is pressing.

Louise must first create a commando group of women especially chosen for the needs of the operation. When it comes to recruitment, anything goes: lies, blackmail, bribery (through the offer of remission of a death sentence) and calls to carry out patriotic duty. She first employs Suzy Desprez (Marie Gillain), a cabaret dancer who excels in the art of seducing men. Then she brings in Gaëlle Lemenech (Déborah François), a chemist and explosives expert. Finally she selects Jeanne Faussier (Julie Depardieu), a prostitute capable of killing in cold blood. After their arrival in Normandy, they are joined by Maria Luzzato (Maya Sansa), an Italian Jew and radio operator.

The mission gets under way well, but quickly becomes complicated. They are obliged to return to Paris, where the SOE gives them a new, almost suicidal, objective: to eliminate Colonel Heindrich, one of the key figures of Nazi counter-espionage. He knows too much about the planned landings.


  • Sophie Marceau as Louise Desfontaines
  • Julie Depardieu as Jeanne Faussier
  • Marie Gillain as Suzy Desprez
  • Déborah François as Gaëlle Lemenech
  • Moritz Bleibtreu as SS-Standartenführer Karl Heindrich
  • Maya Sansa as Maria Luzzato
  • Julien Boisselier as Pierre Desfontaines
  • Vincent Rottiers as Eddy
  • Volker Bruch as SS-Obersturmführer Becker
  • Robin Renucci as Melchior
  • Xavier Beauvois as Claude Granville
  • Colin David Reese as Colonel Maurice Buckmaster
  • Jurgen Mash as Gerd Von Rundstedt
  • Conrad Cecil as Le géologue anglais
  • Alexandre Jazede as René Bourienne
  • David Capelle as Bernard Quesnot
  • Wolfgang Pissors as Médecin train
  • Chantal Garrigues as Mme Duchemin
  • James Gerard as Officier anglais 1
  • Edward Hamilton-Clark as Officier anglais 2
  • Marc Bertolini as Moustachu train
  • Rainer Sievert as Lieutenant hôpital Normandie
  • Ashley Wanninger as Soldat radio cour hôpital
  • Natasha Cashman as Secrétaire Buckmaster
  • Stanislas Kemper as Pilote Jeanne RAF
  • Simon Boyle as Dispatcher
  • Olivier De Wispelaere as Feld gendarme St Lazare
  • Johannes Oliver Hamm as Major SS train
  • David Van Severen as Caporal Pioche
  • Sarah Tullamore as Nurse hôpital anglais
  • Philippe Soutan as Poinçonneur Baratier
  • Yves Heck as Conducteur métro
  • Stéphane Foenkinos as Contrôleur train
  • Christophe Grofer as Sentinelle G2
  • Stefan Kollmuss as Officier Wehrmacht St Germain
  • Fabian Arning as Soldat Pierre
  • Olivier Beraud-Bedouin as Le milicien (as Olivier Beraud)
  • Alex Lutz as a Soldier
  • Jan Oliver Schroeder as Garde entrée hôpital
  • Serge Boutleroff as Concierge hôtel Régent (as Serge Onteniente)
  • Antoine Salomé as Groom Régent
  • Andrew W. Wilson as Prêtre catholique aérodrome
  • Ida Techer as La surveillante couloir[3]


While the film received general positive reviews from French critics, certain resistance veterans from the time have criticised it saying it portrayed them as "coerced into joining the resistance", not joining through patriotism.[4]

The film won the Radio-Canada Audience Award at the 2010 edition of the Cinéfranco film festival.


  1. "Female Agents". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  2. "Lise Villameur obituary". London: The Times. 14 April 2004. Retrieved 21 January 2011.
  3. "Full cast and crew for Female Agents". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  4. Bell, Susan (8 March 2008). "Sophie Marceau's new film sparks resistance". London: The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 21 January 2011.

External links

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