It's time for another Christmas family gathering, but it's quickly interrupted by the murder of the family father. Completely snowed in these 8 women have to figure out who killed him, and on the way to the truth they happen to dig up a few secrets as well.
As a lot of you, I'm not a fan of musical. At least not the typical musicals - I do love "Cannibal! The Musical", "Dancer in the Dark" and so on. But stuff such as "West Side Story" always struck me as bullshit, even at a young age I hated singing in my films (damn you, Disney). But after having seen a few of François Ozon's films I had utmost faith in him and his filmmaking techniques, so if one of his films were a musical then so be it, I wanted to see it. I found this pretty cheap and figured there was no need to wait, just click that lovely "order" button.
What we have here is the classic "whodunit" (I swear it's a coincidence that I've done two "whodunits" reviews in the last couple of days). It's also based on a play, so I'm sure it's a very common story in the musical world. It consists of probably the most classic formula, and something that even exists as a board game (Clue/Cluedo). Someone is killed, in this case it's the patriarch (I wouldn't have thought of using this word if it wasn't for the back cover, but it sums it up so much better than "father of the family" since that's not exactly what he was) who gets stabbed to death during a Christmas get-together at his mansion, and the audience as well as the characters are left to figure out what happened. The guests are all women, consisting of his maids, daughters, wife, sister, you name it. It's obvious where the title comes from! While they dig through eachothers personal lives for motives they stumble upon secret after secret. At the end everyone has had something revealed, but who the fuck is the killer?
This "whodunit" made guessing fun. We're actually involved in trying to solve it, and that's quite rare I think - I often just go along in the ride to see who it is by the end.
"8 Women" has a unique quality to it that makes it both funny and endearing, as well as intriguing and dramatic, while throwing in songs in the mix. What I enjoyed about the musical bit was that each woman had their song, and it revealed something or showed a certain feeling or thought. It gave us an insight to the characters. The songs and dance numbers were at times odd, but I especially found two of them to get stuck in my head - the song by one of the daughters, and by the extra maid.
Each character is also carefully crafted - their role is very decided, and it's easy to get into who is who. Who is the bitch, who is the weird one, etc. With a whole bunch of lead characters, it could've easily been a mess. I suppose with actresses such as Catherine Denevue and Isabelle Huppert, you're bound to get well-played characters.
Because the movie is as light-hearted as it is, even in its serious moments, it has a lot more to offer than just a murder mystery. The variation of female stereotypes that have been thrown together and isolated in a mansion makes for some entertaining and probably very true-to-life complications. And to be fair to the movie, the murder mystery is quite interesting even after you've had the big reveal. I'm sure someone expected it, but I sure didn't. If it's a believable or likely ending... I honestly don't give a fuck, it made for a fun ending.
"8 Women" is a solid movie. I didn't really expect it to be as normal as it was, but it definitely has a unique charm that I recognize from some of his other films. Ozon has managed to use every cliché to his advantage. This isn't a sick, weird or surreal movie. It's an entertaining murder mystery musical, and there's not much more to it than that. Surprisingly enough that's all that was needed with a solid director behind the camera and great actresses in front of it.