Newsnight Review discussed Catherine Deneuve in 8 Women.
(Edited highlights of the panel's review)
This film did give
me joy, but only because it is the sort of film that the British film industry wouldn't go for. We would never make a lugubrious Mousatrap, done as a chocolate box, we really wouldn't. The only pleasure, to me, because it is so implausible, I didn't know
whether it was supposed to be a comedy without jokes, or a musical with some songs in it. The only thing it has in its favour is the casting. But I felt I was watching actresses being melted down at the rate of one every 12 minutes, so that their celebrity tallow was somehow greasing this terrible, creaking, jolting mechanism.
It is very feeble.
I thought about it more afterwards than I thought I was going to, and I just thought it was amazing to have these women all together.
You were thinking about
the lovely frock.
I was. It was thinking of Fanny Ardanta's fantastic red dress!
For me, it was a cross between a Brian Rix farce,
a Bollywood musical, and
this extraordinary Agatha Christie whodunit thing.
It had two main pro-points.
One was these waves of beauty that kept coming over you.
The beautiful women, the beautiful clothes, the beautiful setting, but also it was so French, it could not have been made by any
other country. It was a blow
against that Benettonisation of culture, where everything is becoming the same. I applaud it for that, for daring to be itself.
It had that interior French thing of "Who am I, why am I here?"
That's what everyone in
the audience was thinking!
It was so much like a piece of theatre. This week everything seems to be in the wrong medium. The way that it never went outside, we never had any shot that we, as an audience, could not have
chosen ourselves. The camera did nothing for us that we couldn't have done with our own eyes.
It had so little conviction
to it. The first thing we see is a deer nibbling at the side of this great house. Most of the dialogue after that is about the dogs that
bark when anyone comes near. Even the tamest little miniature schnauzer would have seen that deer off. I was expecting Audrey Tatou
as a poodle eventually!
I refuse to discuss it on a serious level. I thought it was absolutely loathsome. I have never seen such a tremendous waste of these fantastic actresses. Imagine Stephen Frears taking Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren, and doing an episode of Crossroads. What for? It didn't just seem to be a waste of their time, it seemed to be full of a loathing for women, actually. I am always very slow to reach for the term misogyny,
but they're almost cows, seen outside an cultural show, these women. They are greedy, envious and bitter. The nicest emotion anyone has for anyone else is lust.
That's all mechanical, that's because everybody has to have a secret. But when you make a list of the secrets at the end, they don't add up. I've had more psychological insight from a game of Cluedo.
As you say, they are not
very nice, but they play against each other the whole time. It seemed to me that
Isabelle Huppert was on something, because she was pop-eyed and wild and mad, and never came off.
Maybe she agreed without seeing the script.
I think Francois Ozon has obviously made some fantastic
films, he's a very gifted director. I think he just thought, "This will be my
madcap, pastiche film", God help him.