Eight female family members reunite in a remote mansion in the snowy countryside of 1950s France. But what should in fact be a glamorous, social affair becomes a dramatic cutthroat murder mystery as the women discover their beloved patriarch has been killed, and they are the suspects.
The enfant terrible of French cinema, François Ozon’s brave foray into the mind of not one, but eight, women is a gloriously-executed examination of what lies beneath the manicured façade of the female species.
From the outset, the film plays like Agatha Christie meets Douglas Sirk, and is shot like a sumptuous, 1950s, Technicolor melodrama. However, with content exquisitely linked to form, all is not as it seems; as the plot thickens, the veneer cracks and the genre subtly twists its way to kitsch theatricality.
Meanwhile, the women spiral to reveal unexpected intentions — sexual, murderous, dishonest, perverse.
At first cringeworthy, the sight of Catherine Deneuve clicking her heels to a tune is soon delightful. From the twitchy recluse Huppert, to the raunchy Béart, every one of this star-led cast has a chance to spin and sing her yarn to beguiling effect.
Light-hearted and droll — even if you think you don’t like ‘French’ films, you’ll adore this one.