3/04/2012

Female Agents (Les Femmes de l'ombre)

AGENT PROVOCATEUR: Female Agents - "a very competent and reasonably well put together 'war movie' of the old school".
 
A French-British co-production, Female Agents brings to the screen the little known story of the women of the French Resistance, who were parachuted back into occupied Europe to fight the German invaders. The specific inspiration for the film was the life of Lise Marie Jeanette de Baissac, possibly the best known of all the Special Operations Executive women fighters.
In Female Agents (terrible title - why couldn't the distributors have kept the original French, which translates as Women of the shadows?), Sophie Marceau gives a very committed piece of work as a senior spy with a dead-eye shot and a definite talent for high-speed driving. Together with a disparate group of volunteers, Marceau parachutes into occupied France, and pulls off a spectacularly unlikely rescue of a British scientist trapped in a German hospital.

So far, so good. Female Agents is establishing itself as a very competent and reasonably well put together war movie of the old school, in which decent people band together to fight a monstrous enemy, and not everyone will survive until the credits roll.
At this level, I admired Female Agents tremendously. The women of the French Resistance have long had their achievements ignored and belittled.
At the end of World War II, only six women agents were honoured with medals, compared with more than 1000 men.
It would be good to see a great film made about their history, but unfortunately Female Agents is not that film. The direction is too perfunctory, the dialogue is too explicatory and the performances never really get beyond two dimensions. But, Female Agents is still an admirable, entertaining and necessary film. It is well worth a look.

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