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The Essential Guide to Bristol
28 February 2009
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Female Agents (15)

The ViewBristol Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/06/2008

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 120 mins

Exciting, well made wartime thriller that delivers several great set-pieces and features terrific performances from an excellent cast.

What's it all about?
Loosely based on the true story of Lise Villameur, Female Agents is directed by Jean-Paul Salome and stars Sophie Marceau as Louise Desfontaine, a French freedom fighter who escapes to England after her husband is executed. A member of the Special Operations Executive (or SOE), Louise is assigned an urgent mission: to rescue a wounded British geologist from a hospital in occupied France before the Nazis figure out who he is and torture him for information on D-Day.

Working with her brother Pierre (Julien Boisselier), Louise sets about the task of recruiting the other members of her team: prostitute and pimp-killer Jeanne (Julie Depardieu), who joins to escape the gallows; religious explosives expert Gaelle (Deborah Francois) and former exotic dancer Suze (Marie Gillain), who used to be engaged to the SOE's arch-enemy, Nazi counter-intelligence officer Colonel Heindrich (Moritz Bleibtreu), and is unaware that the SOE plan to use her as bait.

The Good
The cast are superb: Marceau is icy-cool as Louise, while Depardieu nabs all the best lines as the cynical Jeanne and Gillain and Francois both have heart-breaking moments as Suze and Gaelle. There's also strong support from both Maya Sansa (as an already-undercover Jewish-Italian communications expert who becomes the fifth member of the team) and Moritz Bleibtreu, who deftly avoids the usual Nazi stereotype to portray a much more complex character.

The Great
Salome orchestrates several terrific set-pieces (notably the escape from the hospital and an extremely tense Metro shoot-out) and the film looks terrific throughout, with great costumes, strong set design work and fantastic cinematography by Pascal Ridao. And of course, this being a French film, there's also a certain amount of nudity, with even the hospital escape plan somehow incorporating stripping nurses.

Worth seeing?
In short, Female Agents is an extremely enjoyable action-adventure flick, though it's best not to take it too seriously. Recommended.

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Female Agents (15)
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