Opening with an elaborate jewel heist set during — and actually filmed at — the Cannes film festival, ”Femme” follows bandit Laure Ash (Romijn-Stamos) as she lures a diamond-studded festivalgoer (Rasmussen) into a bathroom for a steamy lesbian encounter. She snags the gems, then double-crosses her coconspirators and flees to the States. Fate eventually returns her to Paris, where she’s chased by her irate former partners in crime and an affectionately pesky paparazzo played by Banderas.
Or — you just knew there was an or, didn’t you? — maybe not. ”Double Indemnity” may flicker on a TV as ”Femme” opens, but ”Fatale”’s twists and turns owe just as much to recent head scratchers like ”Mulholland Drive.” ”It’s in that school,” says De Palma. ”It’s a kind of a sexy puzzle…so by the time you get to the end of it, you have to go back and see it again to see how all the pieces fit.”
Making the film wasn’t as difficult as making sense of it is, but there was one serious hiccup: La première femme said au revoir. Uma Thurman was originally slated to play Laure, but dropped out due to pregnancy. ”We went through many actresses,” says De Palma. ”It went on for quite a while. Then Rebecca came at the ninth hour. The key to this character is that she has to be just devastatingly sexy, because the trick of the film is that you’re sort of lured into her web. You have to want to feast your eyes on her and never let go.”
THE LOWDOWN After big-budget spectacles (”Mission: Impossible” and ”Mission to Mars”), De Palma scales back for old-school thrills. But will he come up ”Snake Eyes”?