By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Oct 11, 2002 at 5:21 AM

Set on a snowy Christmas Day in the French countryside during the 1950s, "8 Women" is a visual delicacy that's part murder mystery, part musical and all comedy. The film also has a fairy tale feel, offering yet another dimension to any already multi-layered, ever-unraveling film about eight women who, due to a snowstorm, are trapped inside a mansion after the man of the house is murdered.

Naturally, each woman points her finger at the other seven and everyone becomes a suspect. Bum, bum, bum , bum ...

Could it be Louise (Emmanuelle Beart), the sex kitten maid and mistress who only started working at the mansion a month ago? What about Madame Chanel (Firmine Richard), the other servant? She seems to have a lot of secrets, from late night gambling to lesbian love encounters.

But even more susupicious is Pierette (Fanny Ardant), the victim's sexually promiscuous sister who was caught secretly visiting her brother in the middle of the night, or Gaby (Catherine Deneuve), the unhappy wife with a packed suitcase under her bed.

And then there's Augustine (Isabelle Huppert), Gaby's hypochondriac spinster sister, and their mother (Danielle Darrieux), both who have a bundle of addictions, bizarre behaviors and jealousies. Even the pretty and perfect daughter Suzon (Virginie Ledoyen) and her sassy little sister Catherine (Ludivine Sagnier) seem like they could potentially have blood on their hands.

The "who dunnit" aspect of the film is fun, but it's the bizarre musical aspect that make "8 Women" truly unique, unpredictable and hilarious. Each of the women performs an over-the-top musical number, ranging in style from torch song to rock 'n roll and revealing their inner turmoils. For example, Madame Chanel laments her lonely life and unrequited love for Pierette in her sad ditty.

Also worth noting is the film's bright colors. It seems the directors are spoofing 1950's technicolor, with pinks so pink you crave candy and reds so red you are reminded of your own blood. It's safe to say that everything in this film is overdone, but overdone to perfection.


Director Francois Orzon also makes statements about women's oppression and dysfunctional relationships (all of the characters are alone), but if you don't feel like tapping into heavy issues you'll still get your money's worth by tapping your feet to the music instead.

"8 Women" opens Fri., Oct. 11 at Landmark's Downer Theatre.

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.