8 Women – 2002

ImageI went into this film absolutely blind, with only vague knowledge of the director (François Ozon) to guide me. It felt like a full-throttle hurtle down the rabbit hole. The world on screen is rendered in absurd stereotypes and over-bright shades of candy pink and lime green. However, once you settle into the experience, it becomes clear that these women, in their high heels and colour co-ordinated gowns, are just like any other women.

The film is also a musical. The first moment when song is spontaneously broken into requires an almost monumental suspension of disbelief. Yet as the film progresses you see that each song is in fact a character study, almost an aside, revealing the motives of each and connecting the absurdity to the real emotions we all experience.

While the script is quite clearly adapted from a play, the film plays up to this. It allows the dark comedy to become even more farcical as the claustrophobia creates situations that were hitherto ridiculous or outright unthinkable. As the women make a good show of working together on a whodunit mystery, they are all hiding dirty secrets from one another. These eventually come out and pile on top of themselves as a parody of, or perhaps a light-hearted re-enaction of, the worst family reunion imaginable.

Yet this is a genuinely entertaining film. The repartee is sharp and the situations linger so lightly on the balance between plausibility and farce that you cannot help but laugh out loud over and over. While this could all come across as over-bearingly quirky, I found it to be a neat and charming film well worth the watch.

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