In Femme Fatale, Brian De Palma’s latest exercise in candified, gliding-camera incoherence, Rebecca Romijn-Stamos appears in a great many different guises, with countless sexy hairstyles and accents. First, she’s a lesbian-chic mannequin blonde, then a shaggy-maned neurotic, then a Lana Turner vamp in kerchief and sunglasses, then a bent and wizened Ukrainian grandmother. (Okay, I made that one up.) About all that these characters have in common is Romijn-Stamos’ lips, which is part of the filmmaker’s design, his way of demonstrating that a devious woman’s identity is as malleable as her dye job. That’s an idea that De Palma, by now, has ”borrowed” from ”Vertigo” more times than he hasn’t, yet it is taken to such preposterous extremes in ”Femme Fatale” that he doesn’t even seem to be playing Hitchcock anymore. He’s playing dress-up Barbie.
If you look hard, you can make out a story in ”Femme Fatale,” but it has nothing to do with the senseless pileup of jewel thievery, shutterbug voyeurism, and leggy sex bombs so shallow and bad they seem to have come out of a 1978 copy of Hustler magazine. No, the story the movie tells is of Brian De Palma’s addiction to the junk-calorie suspense tropes that have all but ruined his career. Once good (”Scarface”), even great (”Carrie”), he has become a director content to let his camera go through the motions.