8 Women

8 Women
8-femmes-poster.jpg
French theatrical release poster
Directed by François Ozon
Produced by
  • Stéphane Célérier
  • Olivier Delbosc
  • Marc Missonnier
Written by
Based on Huit femmes
by Robert Thomas
Starring
Music by Krishna Levy
Cinematography Jeanne Lapoirie
Edited by Laurence Bawedin
Production
companies
Distributed by
  • Mars Distribution (France)
  • BIM Distribuzione (Italy)
Release date
  • 8 January 2002 (2002-01-08) (Paris premiere)
  • 6 February 2002 (2002-02-06) (France)
  • 17 October 2002 (2002-10-17) (Italy)
Running time
111 minutes [1]
Country
  • France
  • Italy
Language French
Budget €8 million
Box office $42.4 million [2]

8 Women ( French: 8 femmes) is a 2002 French dark comedy musical film, written and directed by François Ozon. Based on the 1958 play by Robert Thomas, it features an ensemble cast of high-profile French actresses that includes Danielle Darrieux, Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Emmanuelle Béart, Fanny Ardant, Virginie Ledoyen, Ludivine Sagnier, and Firmine Richard. Revolving around an eccentric family of women and their employees in the 1950s, the film follows eight women as they gather to celebrate Christmas in an isolated, snowbound cottage only to find Marcel, the family patriarch, dead with a knife in his back. Trapped in the house, every woman becomes a suspect, each having her own motive and secret.

Ozon initially envisioned a remake of George Cukor's 1939 film The Women, but eventually settled on Thomas's Huit femmes after legal obstacles prevented him from doing so. Drawing inspiration from Cukor's screwball comedies of the late 1930s and the 1950s work of pioneering directors such as Douglas Sirk, Vincente Minnelli, and Alfred Hitchcock, 8 Women blends farce, melodrama, musical, and murder-mystery film while addressing murder, greed, adultery, and homosexuality. Set primarily in the entry hall of a manor house, the film recreates much of the play's original theatrical feel. It also serves as a pastiche of and homage to the history of film and the actresses' filmographies.

The film's premiere was held on 8 January 2002 in Paris, where filming had taken place. 8 Women competed for the Golden Bear at the 52nd Berlin International Film Festival, where its all-female cast was awarded the Silver Bear. Released to generally positive reviews, with major praise for the stars, the film was nominated for twelve César Awards, including Best Film. At the 2002 European Film Awards, the film was nominated for six awards, including Best Film and Best Director; it won for Best Actress for the eight principal actresses.

Plot

The film is set in the 1950s in a large country residence as a family and its servants are preparing for Christmas. When the master of the house is discovered dead in his bed with a dagger in his back, it is presumed that the murderer must be one of the eight women in the house. Over the course of the investigation, each woman has a tale to tell and secrets to hide.

The scene opens with Suzon returning from school for Christmas break, finding her mother Gaby, her younger sister Catherine, and her wheelchair-bound grandmother Mamy in the living room, where most of the action of the film takes place. Their conversation drifts to the subject of the patriarch of the family, Marcel, and Catherine leads the first song of the film, "Papa t'es plus dans le coup" (roughly, "Dad, you're out of touch"). The singing wakes up Suzon and Catherine's aunt Augustine, who initiates arguments with the rest of the family and the two servants (Madame Chanel and Louise), eventually returning upstairs and threatening to commit suicide. Mamy jumps out of her wheelchair trying to stop her, haphazardly explaining her ability to walk as a "Christmas miracle." Augustine is eventually calmed down, and she sings her song of longing, " Message personnel" (Personal Message).

The maid takes a tray upstairs, finds Marcel's stabbed body, and screams. Catherine goes up to see what has happened and locks the door. The others finally go up to Marcel's room to see him stabbed in the back. Catherine tells the others that they should not disturb the room until the police arrive, so they re-lock the door. Realizing that the dogs did not bark the night before the incident, it becomes clear that the murderer was known to the dogs and therefore must be one of the women in the house. Attempting to call the authorities, they find that the telephone line has been cut, so they will have to go in person to the police station. Before that can do so, the women are distracted by the announcement that someone is roaming the garden, someone whom the guard dogs are not chasing. The person turns out to be Marcel's sister Pierrette, a nightclub singer who is also rumored to be a prostitute, and who has not been allowed into the house before due to Gaby's dislike for her. When questioned, she claims that she received a mysterious telephone call in which she was informed her that her brother was dead. She sings "A quoi sert de vivre libre" (What's the point of living free?), commenting on her sexual freedom.

It is realized that she has been to the house before, as the dogs did not bark and she knew immediately which room belonged to her brother, making her the eighth potential killer. The women try to start the car, and find that it has been sabotaged, cutting them off from help until the storm subsides and they can hitchhike to town. The women spend their time trying to identify the murderer amongst them. It is learned that Suzon returned the night before to tell her father in secret that she was pregnant. She sings a song to Catherine, "Mon Amour, Mon Ami" (My Lover, My Friend), about her lover; however, she was sexually abused by her father. We later learn that Suzon is not Marcel's child but is the child of Gaby's first great love who was killed not long after the child was conceived; every time Gaby looks at Suzon she is reminded of her love for him.

Suspicion then swings to Madame Chanel, the housekeeper, whose actions the night before seem suspicious. It is revealed that she had been having an affair with Pierrette, who went to see her brother that night to ask for money to pay off her debts. When some members of the family react in outrage to the fact that she is a lesbian, Madame Chanel retreats to the kitchen, and sings "Pour ne pas vivre seul" (So as to not live alone).

In the meantime we find out that Mamy, Suzon and Catherine's "old and sick" grandmother, not only can walk but also possesses some valuable stock shares that could have saved Marcel from his bankruptcy. Out of greed, she lied that her shares had been stolen by someone who knew where she was hiding them. The spotlight moves to Louise, the new maid, who is found out to be Marcel's mistress. She declares affection for Gaby, but also expresses disappointment in her for her weakness and indecision. She sings "Pile ou Face" (literally Heads or Tails, but referring to the Ups and Downs of life), and removes the symbols of her servitude, her maid's cap and apron, asserting herself as an equal to the other women. Gaby sings "Toi Jamais" (Never You), about Marcel, saying that he never paid enough attention to her, while other men did. It is revealed that she had an affair with Marcel's business partner, Jacques Farneaux, the same man who has been having an affair with Pierrette. The two women get into a fight that turns into a passionate make-out session on the living room floor, a scene which the others walk in on and are stunned by.

Eventually, Madame Chanel discovers the solution to the mystery, but she is silenced by a gunshot. While not struck by the bullet, she becomes mute out of shock. Catherine takes the lead, revealing that she hid in her father's closet from where she saw all the other women talk to Marcel the night before. She explains the mystery: Marcel faked his own death, with her help, to see what was really going on in his house. She says that he is now free of the other women's clutches and rushes to his bedroom only to witness Marcel shoot himself in the head. Mamy closes the film with the song "Il n'y a pas d'amour heureux" (There is no happy love) as the women clasp hands and face the audience.

Other Languages
čeština: 8 žen
Cymraeg: 8 Femmes
dansk: 8 kvinder
Deutsch: 8 Frauen
Ελληνικά: 8 Γυναίκες
español: 8 mujeres
فارسی: ۸ زن (فیلم)
Bahasa Indonesia: 8 Women
עברית: 8 נשים
ქართული: 8 ქალბატონი
Latina: Huit Femmes
Lëtzebuergesch: 8 femmes
magyar: 8 nő
Nederlands: 8 femmes
polski: 8 kobiet
português: 8 Mulheres
română: 8 Femei
русский: 8 женщин
suomi: 8 naista
svenska: 8 kvinnor
Türkçe: 8 Kadın
українська: 8 жінок
中文: 八美图