Female Agents (Les Femmes De L'Ombre) - DVD Review

'you’ve been weaned on the American and British films which tend to wallow in our ‘success’ and have everyone saying ‘Hooray’ and singing God Save the Queen at the end'

Female Agents is the woeful translation from the French ‘Les Femmes de l’ombre’. Now my French is by no means brilliant but even I can tell you, with a quick check on this thing we call the interweb, that ‘l’ombre’ does not translate as ‘agents’. What it actually translates as is ‘shade’ or ‘shadow’ which could of given us a film title like ‘Women in the Shade’ or ‘In Shadow Women Dwell’ or something equally poignant but umpteen times better than Female Agents, which sounds like something the Chimp from Speed Racer would watch on a Saturday morning and was obviously pasted on my some nitwit with no mastery of ether English or French.


A crappy title does not a poor film make so it was with relief that Female Agents was highly enjoyable, relatively provocative, somewhat upsetting and a genuinely good film to track down for those of you who I know like something ‘different’.

There’s a well known Hollywood phrase which states that ‘there are no good parts for women in the movies’ which I kind of agree with and kind of disagree with. I agree with it because by and large it’s quite obviously true. Many parts for women treat the fairer sex like they would be treated in your average copy of Zoo or FHM or whatever the American equivalent is. Having said that I disagree with it because I’ve noticed in the past that the women who tend to come out and make that comment, are the exact same women who will choose to take a pay-check to star in a film where the main ‘attraction’ is their breasts, moan about the state of women’s roles and then take exactly the same role when it comes along again in 12 months time. If Angelina Jolie was to come out and say it then I would be all ears because, as has recently been seen, she does balance big bucks mega-blasters with more arty Oscar-worthy fare, now how many people in Hollywood (male or female) can say that? Hands up at the back there, I can’t quite see you…


I’m sure that one will incite passionate debate so I’ll leave it at that and slowly sidestep the issue back to the film in question which, it so transpires, actually has 5 excellent female leads and a number of very good supporting roles too. It’s hard, if not impossible to pick a standout amongst them but Julie Depardieu (daughter of Gerard) certainly gets a meaty character which she excels at bringing to life.

In terms of shortcomings there aren’t many but occasionally it can all get a bit too bleak for its own good when you’ve been weaned on the American and British films which tend to wallow in our ‘success’ and have everyone saying ‘Hooray’ and singing God Save the Queen at the end. Aside from that the excellently cold Sophie Marceau is perhaps a little bit too excellently cold at times but having said that when she does show warmth it does verge on the heartbreaking.

A great French film with the rare dishonour of deserving a better title than it got.

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