Femme Fatale (2002 film)

Femme Fatale is a 2002 erotic thriller film written and directed by Brian De Palma. The film stars Antonio Banderas and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos. It was screened out of competition at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.[2]

Femme Fatale
Femme fatale poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBrian De Palma
Produced by
Written byBrian De Palma
Music byRyuichi Sakamoto
CinematographyThierry Arbogast
Edited byBill Pankow
  • Quinta Communications
  • Epsilon Motion Pictures
Distributed by
Release date
  • 30 April 2002 (2002-04-30) (France)
  • 6 November 2002 (2002-11-06) (United States)
  • 27 March 2003 (2003-03-27) (Germany)
Running time
110 minutes
  • English
  • French
Budget$35 million
Box office$16.8 million

Warner Bros. has included the film in the catalogue of Warner Archive Collection.[3]


Mercenary thief Laure Ash (Rebecca Romijn) participates in a diamond heist in Cannes. The plan is for Laure to steal valuable diamonds from the ensemble of a female attendant named Veronica (Rie Rasmussen) while in the middle of seducing her, during which her accomplices "Black Tie" (Eriq Ebouaney) and Racine (Édouard Montrouge) provide various support. However, Laure instead double-crosses her accomplices and escapes to Paris with the diamonds. In Paris, a series of events causes Laure to be mistaken for her own doppelgänger, a missing Parisian woman named "Lily" (also portrayed by Romijn) who had recently disappeared. While Laure luxuriates in a tub in Lily's home, the real Lily returns and commits suicide while Laure secretly watches, providing Laure the opportunity to take her identity for good, and she leaves the country for America.

Seven years later, Laure (in her identity as "Lily") resurfaces in Paris as the wife of Bruce Watts, the new American ambassador to France (Peter Coyote). After arriving in France, a Spanish paparazzo named Nicolas Bardo (Antonio Banderas) takes her picture. The picture is displayed around Paris, and Black Tie (who has coincidentally been released from prison seven years after being arrested for the heist) spots Bardo's photo while in the middle of killing a woman, seen talking earlier with Laure at a café, by throwing her into the path of a speeding truck. With Laure exposed to her vengeful ex-accomplices, she decides to frame Bardo for her own (staged) kidnapping. Bardo is further manipulated by Laure into following through with the "kidnapping," and in the process, they begin a sexual relationship. The pair eventually meet with Bruce for a ransom exchange; however, Bardo has a crisis of conscience at the last moment and sabotages the scheme. In retaliation, Laure executes both Bruce and Bardo, only to be surprised by her ex-accomplices afterwards who promptly throw her off a bridge to her seeming death.

In an extended twist ending, the entirety of the movie's events after Laure enters the tub in Lily's home are revealed to be a dream. Laure spies Lily entering the home as before, but this time stops her from committing suicide. Seven years later, Laure and Veronica, who is revealed to have been Laure's partner all along, chat about the success of their diamond caper. Black Tie and Racine arrive seeking revenge, but they are killed by the same truck that killed Veronica in Laure's dream. Bardo, witnessing all these events, introduces himself to Laure, swearing that he has met her before, with Laure replying "Only in my dreams."



Critical receptionEdit

The film received mixed reviews; however, it was praised by several high-profile critics, notably Roger Ebert, who gave it a 4 star review and called it one of De Palma's best films.[4] The film has since developed a cult status amongst cinephiles.[5] Femme Fatale currently holds a 49% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 136 reviews.

At the 2002 Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, the film received nominations for Worst Director (De Palma) and Worst Actress (Romijn-Stamos, also for Rollerball). Romijn-Stamos ended up winning Worst Female Fake Accent for this film and Rollerball.[6]

Box officeEdit

The film was a box office bomb, taking in less than its production costs worldwide.

In the North America, the film played very well in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Toronto and Chicago, but also played weakly in the mid-section of the country.[7]

US domestic gross US$6,630,252
International gross $10,208,658
Worldwide gross $16,838,910

The film generated more than $19.66 million in home video rentals in the United States (significantly higher than the film's United States box office gross).[8]


  1. ^ a b c Deming, Mark. "Femme Fatale (2002) – Brian De Palma". AllMovie. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Femme Fatale". festival-cannes.com. Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 3 November 2009.
  3. ^ https://www.wbshop.com/products/femme-fatale-2002
  4. ^ "Femme Fatale :: rogerebert.com :: Reviews". Rogerebert.suntimes.com. 6 November 2002. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  5. ^ Tobias, Scott (5 March 2009). "The New Cult Canon: Femme Fatale | Film | The New Cult Canon". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  6. ^ "Past Winners Database". The Envelope at L.A. Times. Retrieved 7 October 2019.
  7. ^ https://web.archive.org/web/20151017071354/http://www.hollywood.com/movies/box-office-analysis-nov-10-57233139/
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 December 2003. Retrieved 9 December 2003.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit