8 Women | Movie Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

8 Women 

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Abourgeois factory owner is found lying in bed with a knife in his back, and the finger of guilt passes from one occupant of his richly appointed home to another: his coolly fashionable wife (Catherine Deneuve), his beautiful and willful daughters (Virginie Ledoyen and Ludivine Sagnier), his morally loose sister (Fanny Ardant), his miserly mother-in-law (Danielle Darrieux), his rabidly neurotic sister-in-law (Isabelle Huppert), and the home's two domestics (Firmine Richard and Emmanuelle Beart). Director Francois Ozon couldn't get the rights to George Cukor's The Women, so he unearthed a long-forgotten play by Robert Thomas and transformed it into this slaphappy musical melodrama, drawing on Douglas Sirk for his dramatic mise-en-scene (the snowy window frame of All That Heaven Allows is a frequent motif) and Vincente Minnelli for his saturated color schemes and iconic handling of the stars. The characters' scandalous secrets come tumbling out in such profusion that the women's issues raised by the script are buried, and by the end the mystery story has begun to crumple of its own weight. But the dazzling star power of the French screen royalty Ozon has assembled and the film's sheer exuberance in its own artifice make this a delight from beginning to end. In French with subtitles; 113 min. Century 12 and CineArts 6, Pipers Alley.

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