Femme Fatale (2002 film)

Femme Fatale

French release poster
Directed by Brian De Palma
Produced by Tarak Ben Ammar
Marina Gefter
Written by Brian De Palma
Starring Rebecca Romijn-Stamos
Antonio Banderas
Peter Coyote
Music by Ryuichi Sakamoto
Cinematography Thierry Arbogast
Edited by Bill Pankow
Epsilon Motion Pictures
Quinta Communications
Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • 30 April 2002 (2002-04-30) (France)
  • 6 November 2002 (2002-11-06) (US)
Running time
114 minutes
Country France
Language English
Budget $35 million
Box office $16.8 million

Femme Fatale is a 2002 French erotic thriller/mystery film directed by Brian De Palma. The film stars Rebecca Romijn and Antonio Banderas. It was screened out of competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.[1]


Mercenary thief Laure Ash (Rebecca Romijn) participates in a diamond heist in Cannes. The plan is for Laure to steal valuable diamonds from the ensemble of a female attendant named Veronica (Rie Rasmussen) while in the middle of seducing her, during which her accomplices "Black Tie" (Eriq Ebouaney) and Racine (Édouard Montrouge) provide various support. However, Laure instead double-crosses her accomplices and escapes to Paris with the diamonds. In Paris, a series of events causes Laure to be mistaken for her own doppelgänger, a missing Parisian woman named "Lily" (also portrayed by Romijn) who had recently disappeared. While Laure luxuriates in a tub in Lily's home, the real Lily returns and commits suicide while Laure secretly watches, providing Laure the opportunity to take her identity for good, and she leaves the country for America.

Seven years later, Laure (in her identity as "Lily") resurfaces in Paris as the wife of Bruce Watts, the new American ambassador to France (Peter Coyote). After arriving in France, a Spanish paparazzo named Nicolas Bardo (Antonio Banderas) takes her picture. The picture is displayed around Paris, and Black Tie (who has coincidentally been released from prison seven years after being arrested for the heist) spots Bardo's photo while in the middle of killing a woman, seen talking earlier with Laure at a café, by throwing her into the path of a speeding truck. With Laure exposed to her vengeful ex-accomplices, she decides to frame Bardo for her own (staged) kidnapping. Bardo is further manipulated by Laure into following through with the "kidnapping," and in the process, they begin a sexual relationship. The pair eventually meet with Bruce for a ransom exchange; however, Bardo has a crisis of conscience at the last moment and sabotages the scheme. In retaliation, Laure executes both Bruce and Bardo, only to be surprised by her ex-accomplices afterwards who promptly throw her off a bridge to her seeming death.

In an extended twist ending, the entirety of the movie's events after Laure enters the tub in Lily's home are revealed to be a dream. Laure spies Lily entering the home as before, but this time stops her from committing suicide. Seven years later, Laure and Veronica, who is revealed to have been Laure's partner all along, chat about the success of their diamond caper. Black Tie and Racine arrive seeking revenge, but they are killed by the same truck that killed Veronica in Laure's dream. Bardo, witnessing all these events, introduces himself to Laure, swearing that he has met her before, with Laure replying "Only in my dreams."



Critical reception

The film received mixed reviews; however, it was praised by several high-profile critics, notably Roger Ebert, who gave it a 4 star review and called it one of De Palma's best films.[2] The film has since developed a cult status amongst cinephiles.[3] Femme Fatale currently holds a 48% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 134 reviews.

Box office

The film was a box office bomb, taking in less than its production costs worldwide.

US domestic gross US$6,630,252
International gross $10,208,658
Worldwide gross $16,838,910


  1. "Festival de Cannes: Femme Fatale". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  2. "Femme Fatale :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. 6 November 2002. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  3. Tobias, Scott (5 March 2009). "The New Cult Canon: Femme Fatale | Film | The New Cult Canon". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 16 April 2012.

External links

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