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United Kingdom 1999
Directed by
Peter Greenaway
121 minutes
Rated R

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

8½ Women

Although for anyone not familiar with Peter Greenaway’s very distinctive body of work 8½ Women may come as a shock, for the rest of us it is a relatively subdued and surprisingly watchable film. Although the director’s longstanding cinematographer Sacha Vierny once again gives us marvellous imagery Greenaway has not overplayed his love of the Baroque and, once again relatively speaking, gives us a story that albeit elliptical, we can follow with some interest and characters who engage as such. Ok, there’s plenty of the director’s trademark nudity and he gets things going with an act of father-son incest but he spares us the ponderous, over-stuffed arthouse perversity that makes many of his films largely unbearable in what is a black comedy of sorts.

The title, of course, refers to Fellini’s iconic 1963 film but the connection is more thematic than real. In Fellini’s case the title simply referred to the number of films that he had made to date but Greenaway's filmfollows the fantasies of a wealthy banker and his son (John Standing and Matthew Delamere) as they have various encounter with eight and a half women. There are some wacky characters here including from Greenaway’s previous film, The Pillow Book, Vivian Wu as a frustrated accountant, Toni Collette as a Scandinavian nun and Amanda Plummer as a woman with an obsessive (non-sexual) love of horses

DVD Extras: None.

Available in an Umbrella Entertainment 8 disc box set that also includes A Draughtman’s Contract, A Zed & Two Noughts, Drowning By Numbers, Prospero's Books, The Baby Of Mâcon, The Pillow Book and a 1992 documentary on the director and his work.

Available from: Umbrella Entertainment




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