Friday, June 27, 2008

LES FEMMES DE L'OMBRE / FEMALE AGENTS - straightforward recreation of wartime heroism

Start the war with the Germans, finish with the English - a typical French attitude!FEMALE AGENTS is a no-nonsense World War Two spy thriller. The film-makers don't try anything fancy in terms of visual style, narrative structure or performances. However, the true story upon which the film is based is interesting enough to maintain interest throughout the two hour run-time.

Five young French women are recruited by the British secret service to rescue a geologist from a German military hospital. It is imperative that they do this before the Germans realise that he has been surveying the beaches of Normandy before the D-Day landings that will liberate Europe. It is crucial that the Germans continue to believe that the main invasion will come at Calais. The agents rescue the geologist easily enough, but then have to assassinate the German soldier who has extracted his secret. There are several attempts in a beautifully recreated wartime Paris, culminating in a very effective final showdown in a misty train station.

FEMALE AGENTS works well as a thriller but I like it even more for the fact that its protagonists aren't simple caricatures but real people with conflicted motives and developing characters. The ending may have been a touch sentimental, but I was so carried away by the film that I felt it utterly justified.

FEMALE AGENTS was released in France and Belgium earlier this year. It is currently on release in the UK and opens in the Netherlands in October.

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