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  • Les femmes de l’ombre
    • Les femmes de l’ombre
    • Runtime:117 min
    • Release Date:2014-10-23 07:52:42
    • Director: Jean-Paul Salomé
    • Genres: Drama, History, War
    • Studio:
MOVIE REVIEW:Les femmes de l’ombre
Auhtor:

   

I started watching this movie rather sceptical, because I was expecting
a french patriotism flick, since french history usually gives you the
impression that the whole of France was in "La Resistance". But I have
to say, that I was surprised about the interpretation of occupied
France. The story is well written, the actors fit the roles mostly (I
love Moritz Bleibtreu but an SS officer doesn't really suit him in my
opinion) and they do a good job. Overall a good thriller set in the
Third Reich. The true core of the story is of course really small. The
events presented in the movie didn't take place. But its good
entertainment.

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Films abound regarding arguably the greatest tragedy of mankind–World
War II–and so many focus on the heroic sacrifices of men. What makes
"Les Femmes de L'ombre" shine is that it features the typically unsung
contributors to the war effort–the heroines who shared the same
audacity and love of country and liberty as the men.

Aside from its cast of four gorgeous French women (and an equally
delightful Italian), it features a simple, but clever agenda–the
actions of a cell of saboteurs and assassins working for the British
Special Operations Executive (SOE) in occupied France. There are no
fantastic stories here–no plots to kill Hitler or to sabotage atomic
research. Instead, the story narrows its focus to the extraordinary
efforts to keep secret the particulars of the inevitable invasion of
the European continent by the Allies. This is no small order, and there
is much suffering in keeping what must remain secret.

The emotions in the film are well played by the actors and actresses.
During the few brutal, but necessary scenes, the cries of anguish and
pain are real and powerfully emotive. Louise (Sophie Marceau) is
convincing as a vengeful widow who works alongside her dedicated
brother, Pierre (Julien Boisselier). Jeanne (Julie Depardieu, daughter
of the famous French actor Gerard Depardieu) plays a callous whore
motivated at first by remission of her prison sentence, then by money,
then by revenge. Gaëlle (Déborah François) portrays the naïve,
religious girl who is seemingly the only true French patriot of the
group. Maria (Maya Sansa) is a driven, Italian Jew whose family met its
fate in a concentration camp. The most reluctant member is the lovely
Suzy (Marie Gillain), whose questionable past allied her with the most
unlikely of characters, Colonel Heindrich (Moritz Bleibtreu) of the
Wehrmacht and the film's major antagonist. Unexpected support comes
from local profiteer, Eddy (Vincent Rottiers), whose connection to
Colonel Heindrich enables the saboteurs to get close to him to fulfill
their mission.

If there's a noticeable weakness to the film, it is Bleibtreu cast as a
Nazi colonel. He's neither evil nor intimidating. He lacks the sinister
persona of Colonel Landa (Christoph Waltz) of "Inglourious Basterds," a
decidedly less serious film of the genre. Where Colonel Heindrich
should have been clever and cruel, his performance instead is wooden
and uninspiring. Bleibtreu may be a little out of his realm in a role
so serious.

Les Femmes de L'ombre is a solid contribution to the WWII films of the
last decade. I hope it inspires more stories of the Resistance to be
told with attention to the incredible sacrifices and dedication of
normal people confronted with the horrors of Nazism.

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*** This review may contain spoilers ***

WWII and the Nazis are favorite subjects to turn into films. "Female
Agents" takes a different approach to tell a story about the last days
of the conflict. When a British agent is wounded and caught by the
Germans while on a mission prior to the landing at Normandy, his
superiors in England go into action enlisting exiled brother and
sister, Pierre and Louise Desfontaines to fly into France to rescue the
wounded man from his captors.

There is little preparation before the actual D-Day invasion. It is
May, only a few days until the planned Allied landing. Pierre enlists
his own widowed sister Louise, an expert in tactical planning to put
together a small group to assist her in the rescue operation. Thus, a
motley crew is assembled, Louise plus four other women will go to do
their contribution to the war effort. The women come from different
ways of life. Each one has a particular area of expertise to help the
cause.

Alas, not everything goes according to plan. The women are facing one
of the most feared Nazis in France, SS Col. Heindrich. This is a
challenge for the team as they will encounter all kinds of dangers
while trying to do their job. The wounded agent is being interrogated
by Heindrich in a French hospital. The attempt to get him out proves to
be an immense job in which the women will show their courage, but at
the same time, it will be a high price to pay for some in the group.

Director Jean-Paul Salome, working with co-writer Laurent Vachaud,
gives the audience an action packed film. The emphasis is to show the
valor of these French women at a time when their country was divided,
and also everyone felt the humiliation of the Nazi occupation. The
partisan movement worked hard behind the scenes to try and exterminate
the enemy from their soil at all costs.

Sophie Marceau is fine, as usual, as Louise. The others in the group,
Julie Depardieu, Marie Gillain, and Deborah Francois, do also good work
for director Salome. As it is always the case, the bad guy, in this
case, Moritz Bleibtreu, has great fun with his evil Col. Heindrich.

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I watched Sophie Marceau in the The World is Not Enough and she was as
wooden as a post. I saw her in a few other things and I had the opinion
that the woman, who is absolutely beautiful, just couldn't act. I
almost didn't watch this flick because of her previous performances.
Something has happened to her. She can now act and seems to be making
up for lost time. She was absolutely terrific!! This flick, about four
women chosen, blackmailed and coerced to work for the British as secret
agents in occupied France during WWII, is one excellent and original
work. It's based on an actual woman who did the things depicted here
during WWII. Watch the credits at the end of the film for her story.

I've seen a lot of tough women on TV and in cinema. None compare to
this crew. All except Sophie Marceau start out as hesitant and somewhat
weak. That doesn't last long. In no time at all they're jumping out of
planes, shooting their way across France, coldly and ruthlessly
murdering every German who stands in front of them. They get captured,
rescued, tortured, blow things up, etc. but still remain fearless and
inventive. The mission is what counts, not their safety. This is the
best flick I've seen in a long time and the very best action chick
flick ever made.

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