One morning at an isolated mansion in the snowy countryside of 1950s France, a family is gathered for the holiday season. But there will be no celebration at all because their beloved patriarch has been murdered! The killer can only be one of the eight women closest to the man of the house. Was it his powerful wife? His spinster sister-in-law? His miserly mother-in-law? Maybe the insolent chambermaid or the loyal housekeeper? Could it possibly have been one of his two young daughters? A surprise visit from the victim's chic sister sends the household into a tizzy, encouraging hysterics, exacerbating rivalries, and encompassing musical interludes. Comedic situations arise with the revelations of dark family secrets. Seduction dances with betrayal. The mystery of the female psyche is revealed. There are eight women and each is a suspect. Each has a motive. Each has a secret. Beautiful, tempestuous, intelligent, sensual, and dangerous...one of them is guilty. Which one is it?Written by
Anthony Pereyra <email@example.com>
Pierette (Fanny Ardant) tells Augustine (Isabelle Huppert) that she looks like a woman from one of her romance novels, "La Dame Aux Camélias". Huppert actually played Alphonsine in Storia vera della signora dalle camelie, La (1980), an adaptation of that novel. See more »
[in French, using English subtitles]
I'm going in, Mom.
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Not hilarious but consistently amusing and entertaining thanks to across-the-board strong delivery
It is nearing Christmas when Gaby and teenage daughter Suzon return to their home. Her husband Marcel is poorly but he has allowed Gaby's mother Mamy and Aunt Augustine to remain in the house as well with maids Chanel and Louise to help with the guests and his other daughter Catherine. With all these women in the house, minor squabbles break out but nothing compares to the tension when Louise discovers that someone has murdered Marcel. With the house cut off by snow and the phone lines cut, it is clear that one of the eight assembled women must have done the murder but with so many motives and so much suspicion, who could it have been?
Even if you have not seen any of these types of films or plays, the set-up will be familiar as a sort of drawing-room "one of us is the murderer" affair and indeed that is exactly what it is, in the tradition of Agatha Christie I suppose. However what Ozon's film does is take the staples of this genre and plays with them to produce a richly comic, colourful and enjoyable exaggeration thereof. Unlike some reviewers, I did not find it roaringly funny but did find it continually amusing. The plot could have been played straight and thus is good enough to hold the interest as a genre piece but it is the delivery that makes it enjoyable and engaging. While some of the songs are a bit ropey, their delivery is all slightly ott and fun for it. It also helps that the whole film is full of rich colours, again giving it the feel of a play, happening right in front of you.
Of course as with any play, a lot does rest on the cast and here we are not disappointed as the starry cast mostly "get" what the film is trying to do. Deneuve is great as the wife while Darrieux enjoys her character a great deal. Béart and Ardant both stick in the mind easily because they have a great lingering sexuality to their characters that they bring out well (Béart is particularly impressive at this game and it was here that I twigged how stunning she is). Huppert is enjoyable but I didn't like the changes her character undergoes at the end. Ledoyen is very good with her character but I wasn't so taken with Sagnier she was OK but I thought she had the least to work with.
Overall then an enjoyable and lively take on an occasionally dry genre. The plot is solid enough to be interesting but it is the delivery across the board that adds colour, vitality and fun to the mix from direction through set design to of course the performances. Not hilarious but consistently amusing and entertaining.
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