Female Agents (Les Femmes Des Ombres)
Spring 1944, the lead up to the Normandy landings, and the technical planning and manufacture of a floating dock has been going on since January. When a British geologist ends up in a French hospital, the plan is thrown into jeopardy. So a suicidal sabotage and rescue mission, overseen by Churchill, is put in place immediately, using only female agents to be recruited by French resistance veteran Louise (Sophie Marceau). Louise puts together the impressive team of seductive showgirl Suze (Marie Gillain), explosives expert Gaëlle (Déborah François), prostitute Jeanne (Julie Depardieu) and radio operator Maria (Maya Sansa). These ladies are all that stands between the Nazi counter intelligence head Colonel Heindrich (Moritz Bleibtreu) and the success of D Day.
Based, allegedly, on a true story, Jean-Paul Salome’s new film goes some way towards settling the huge debt owed to the women of the French resistance. These were women who had balls of steel when brutality and betrayal were common currencies and, of course, their sacrifice for their country should never be forgotten.
As he proved with 2004’s Arsène Lupin, Salome is an arch stylist and copyist. He is at home replicating the steady minimalist tones of Jean Pierre Melville’s Army of the Shadows as he is playing to the crowd with low-fi, well choreographed Guns of Navarone/Dirty Dozen-style action sequences. The problem is that beyond Salome’s fan boy zeal and the handful of great performances by France’s loveliest actresses, Female Agents feels and looks like just another po-faced TV mini series, one begging to be cut down the middle and shown on consecutive nights. Interesting but pedestrian.
Selected release from Fri 27 Jun.