MOVIE REVIEW : ‘Femme Fatale’: Mystery Story Is Fatally Flawed


“Femme Fatale” (at the AFI USA Independent Showcase at the Monica 4-Plex) couldn’t be deadlier. A boyish-looking forest ranger/artist (Colin Firth) comes upon a young woman (Lisa Zane) enjoying the scenery, offers her shelter for the night, and they swiftly fall in love. She then vanishes almost immediately after their wedding.

Just as speedily, the film becomes as dogged as the ranger’s search, which takes him to Los Angeles, where his bride said she’s from. Sad to say, Andre Guttfreund’s direction is just as plodding as Michael Ferris and John D. Brancato’s verbose, shallow and uninspired script.

Zane has a bold Paloma Picasso-like beauty, which makes it entirely understandable why Firth would be swept off his feet, not asking too many questions of his bride before they tied the knot.


In any event, he’s in for a shock--or rather, a series of shocks. The first is that she’s been a drug-dealing S&M; porn actress caught up in an affair with her erstwhile co-star (Lisa Blount).

So lifeless is this film that this bit of information is as uninteresting as the whole truth about her, which Firth eventually uncovers. (The film’s closing dialogue is unintentionally hilarious, but that’s hardly enough to make this dud worth sitting through just to hear it.)

The real mystery, however, is what attracted Firth, a fine English actor of many notable credits, to this project. He’s talented and experienced enough to turn in a performance that’s at least creditable in the glum circumstances, but most others, which includes Billy Zane as Firth’s Venice painter pal, are distractingly mannered and uneven, which suggests they apparently received little direction. “Femme Fatale” (rated R for language, some sex and violence) has been well-photographed by Joey Forsyte.

‘Femme Fatale’

Colin Firth: Joe

Lisa Zane: Cynthia

Billy Zane: Elijah

Scott Wilson: Dr. Beaumont

Lisa Blount: Jenny

A Republic Pictures release. Director Andre Guttfreund. Producers Andrew Lane, Nancy Rae Stone. Executive producer Joel Levine. Screenplay Michael Ferris, John D. Brancato. Cinematographer Joey Forsyte. Editor Richard Candib. Music Parmer Fuller. Running time: 1 hour, 36 minutes.

MPAA-rated R (for sensuality, violence and language).