Brian De Palma's B-movie masterpiece Femme Fatale is a film that not enough people have seen. It came and went from theaters in the fall of 2002 and was met with very divided opinions by critics. Some people hated it and some people really loved it, as is the case very often with De Palma's films. However, if you want to read some excellent pieces of film criticism, check out the completely spot on reviews by Roger Ebert http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/articleAID=/20021106/REVIEWS/211060301/1023 and A.O. Scott http://www.nytimes.com/2002/11/06/movies/06FEMM.html
The film is a supremely stylish ode to Hitchcock, murder, crime, sexy women, dangerous men, shady dealings, surrealistic dream-style fantasy, and to De Palma himself. Often labeled a Hitchcock rip-off by some critics, De Palma has made a career out of exposing a perverse sense of suspense and sexuality in his movies; check out Body Double, Dressed to Kill, Sisters, Blow Out, and Obsession for a masters class in kinky cinema. In Femme Fatale, he has fun with his own body of work, and rips himself off multiple times, with much apparent glee. Its the De Palmiest of De Palma films, like how Domino is the Toniest of Tony Scott films. The plot is too much fun to spoil in a review, but I will say that I agree with Ebert's claim that the movie is an example of "pure filmmaking." Femme Fatale is in love with cinema, and, to an exciting degree, in love with itself. It's a pastiche of different years and styles of filmmaking, revolving around an often immitated genre staple (the femme fatale and the man she dupes), set in elegant locations, and starring one of the sexiest women of all time, Rebecca Romijn. The opening heist sequence, almost 15 minutes in length and with limited dialogue, is the very definition of a tour de force. Working with the incredible cinematographer Thierry Abrogast (Leon, The Fifth Element), De Palma's swerving, gliding camerawork takes the viewer on a twisty journey down the red carpet and into one of the main screening rooms at the Cannes Film Festival, where an erotically-charged diamond heist is taking place behind the scenes. I fear I've already said too much. This movie is just a ton of fun to watch. If you like classic noirs like The Big Sleep and Double Indemnity (which gets a clever shout-out at the begining of Femme Fatale) and neo-noirs like The Last Seduction and Red Rock West (what the fuck happened to John Dahl?!), then you'll love Femme Fatale. It's glorious moviemaking.