The Fearless Femmes
Following her husband's murder at the hands of the Nazis Louise Desfontaine (Sophie Marceau) is recruited by the SOE in London and chosen to head up an important mission. Picking her team which includes Jeanne (Julie Depardieu) a prostitute facing the death sentence for murder, GaÃ«lle Lemenech (DÃ©borah FranÃ§ois) a chemist with skills in explosives and cabaret dancer Suzy Desprez (Marie Gillain) who can seduce men they are sent in to France to rescue a British agent whose knowledge of the proposed Invasion of Normandy makes him a security risk. But when it becomes clear that SS Colonel Heindrich (Moritz Bleibtreu) is aware of what the British agent knows the women must head to Paris to finish the job by killing Heindrich.
After an entertaining opening action scene which establishes Louise's skills with a rifle whilst also providing her motivation to become involved we are then presented with a series of black and white photos during the credits. We see images of women working in the factories but at the same time we also see women brandishing guns as they were part of the resistance taking part in the fighting. In the wrong hands this could have come across as a heavy handed feminist statement but here works to remind us that it wasn't just men who were trained up to fight during WWII and put everything on the line for their countries.
That opening is very clever as it also establishes the rest of the movie's intentions because after reminding us of what women did during the war we then get what would once have been a typical genre war movie but with women instead. Basically think of "The Dirty Dozen" but have women doing the killing oh and have them speaking French which for those who don't like foreign movies don't panic because as I said "Female Agents" is genre and it is easy to follow and there are of course subtitles if you need them.
So what does that mean, well we have a snappily paced genre war movie with some nice action and it has to be noted an attractive cast which director Jean-Paul SalomÃ© capitalizes on. But at the same time the likes of Marceau, Depardieu and Gillain all play interesting characters and they play their parts well. Although I will say again this is a genre movie and as such it doesn't have the depth of some war movies about the women who put their lives on the line although more than you get in some modern war movies. In truth "Female Agents" is really all about the entertainment and if you spend too long thinking about it you will end up ripping it to pieces because of plots gaps.
What this all boils down to is that "Female Agents" is an entertaining movie and a nice variation on a typical WWII action movie with the focus shifted to women. It isn't with out its issues, at times the whole production looks to beautiful but for those who like WWII action movies where the focus is on entertainment and heroics this is well worth checking out as it is something just a little bit different.