Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.5. France/Italy, 2002. BIM Distribuzione, Canal+, Centre National De La Cinematographie, Fidélité Productions, France 2 Cinema, Gimages 5, Local Films, Mars Distribution. Screenplay by Francois Ozon, Marina de Van, based on the play by Robert Thomas. Cinematography by Jeanne Lapoirie. Produced by Olivier Delbosc, Marc Missonnier. Music by Krishna Levy. Production Design by Arnaud de Moleron. Costume Design by Pascaline Chavanne. Film Editing by Laurence Bawedin. Toronto International Film Festival 2002.
Take a Hercule Poirot mystery, cast France’s eight most beautiful and talented women, throw in a selection of popular French tunes from the fifties and sixties, and photograph it a la Douglas Sirk in queasy-bright colour, and you have Francois Ozon’s latest delightful satire. Catherine Deneuve returns to her picture-perfect mansion with her college student daughter (Virginie Ledoyen), only to discover that her husband has been murdered in his bed. The phones have been cut off, the gates to the estate locked and the car has been vandalized, leaving eight women trapped in a house where no one knows who did it! Also suspect are Deneuve’s spinster sister (a hilarious Isabelle Huppert), her alcoholic mother (Danielle Darrieux, who also played Deneuve’s mother in The Young Girls of Rochefort), her other daughter (Ludivine Sagnier), her cook (Firmine Richard), her sexy cabaret-singer sister-in-law (Fanny Ardant) and her sex-kitten maid (Emmanuelle Béart). The secrets that are revealed throughout their investigation of the crime are at turns hilarious, ridiculous and sometimes very moving. Exceptionally well done, and the tuneful songs will bounce around in your head for days!