Welcome to Femme Fatale Film Reviews!
First things first--what is a femme fatale?
A femme fatale is a dangerous woman with her own (often morally questionable) agenda. She's the woman racing through a darkly lit town during a drenching rainstorm, wearing a trench coat and concealing a deadly secret. She's the seductress of evil villains and witless idiots alike; she's the cunning vamp, the man-eater, the scheming mistress. She loves no man and craves power, plain and simple. She is, to use the proper terminology, a bad bitch.
So, who are some femmes fatales?
Although the femme fatale archetype was popularized by 1940's American films such as Double Indemnity and The Postman Always Rings Twice, the trope of the deadly woman has been around for centuries. Historical figures Cleopatra and Helen of Troy were femmes fatales, as were Aphrodite and Marie Antoinette.
In a more modern setting, one could consider Alice Hollister's vamp character in the 1913 silent film The Vampire among the first femmes fatales to ever grace the silver screen. Think Marion Crane in Psycho, Suzanne Stone in To Die For, or even Alex Vause in Orange Is the New Black. The role of the femme fatale is an ever changing one, and each woman brings a unique discord to her role in her film's universe.
Why should we care about femmes fatales?
Femmes fatales are immensely important characters. Throughout early film history, the femme fatale is almost always utilized as a catalyst to a male character's self-discovery. However, the dangerous woman's very presence is a disruption. In a sterilized Hay's code movie world, she represents a feminine force who refuses to be controlled by patriarchal figures such as a husband, father, or boss.
Representation in film is a huge deal--the people we see on screen become the people we idolize and imitate. A large percentage of female archetypal characters serve only to satisfy male audience members (i.e. the ever-present male gaze) by guaranteeing submission to men. The audience is shown that "good" women should be soft-spoken, well-mannered, married with children, and sexy but never sexual.
Who wrote, produced, directed and starred in American movies throughout the 20th century? Until very, very recently, young heterosexual white men dominated the industry. Inclusion of femme fatale characters is a direct rebuke to the patriarchy of a film's universe. The femme fatale makes male characters uncomfortable by shattering the stale image of a woman who does what she's told. Her existence is a statement that a woman can be exactly the opposite of what she is told she is supposed to be, without permission and unapologetically.
She is not a good girl. She does not exist to please or serve men. She is her own woman, serving only her own needs, the outlier in a cinematic world that demands her obedience and submission. She is a bad bitch and she is unashamed.
Great! So what can I expect from Femme Fatale Film Reviews?
Here at FFFR, we want to talk all about badass women in film! Expect essays and videos about the evolving roles of powerful women, and feminism in horror and noir, and reviews of the best (and worst!) new films and television shows.
Want to contribute to Femme Fatale Film Reviews?
Please do! We would love to feature great writers, video makers, artists, and content creators. And specifically, if you're a woman or non-binary individual, a person of color, LGBTQIA+, or are a minority in some way, we would love to feature your work! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll get back to you ASAP.