8 1/2 Women (1999)

8 1/2 WOMEN, a European film that's since left the Triangle, is a-
bout a father and son who, well, form their own concubine.  Dad's 
distraught 'cause Mom just died-- she was his sole partner of many 
decades-- so the sexually adventurous Son (and only child) begins 
filling the Swiss family mansion with out-putting women.  You 
know, to help distract Dad.  (Pops is a billionaire with a super-
huge house in Geneva.)  The boarding babes eventually number eight 
and range from a quiet kabuki performer to a paralyzed-but-recov-
ering horse thief.  (That the latter lies in her hospital bed 
wearing nothing but a see-through brace and clown make-up is nei-
ther here nor there.)  Also present is a woman with no legs.  Er-
go, the "half."  (At least, I *think* that's the case.  Truth be 
told, I didn't catch that detail until the very end...)  

Boundary bounder Peter Greenaway (THE PILLOW BOOK) both writes and 
directs and, yet, neither the many sex scenes nor the ample nudity 
(female *and* male) ever arouses.  Not even once.  (A scene set in 
front of a full-length mirror, with father and son standing stark-
ers and comparing certain body parts, is certainly a compelling 
*curiosity*, I'll give you that.)  The only real shocker, in fact, 
is the surprise upon seeing Oscar-nominated SIXTH SENSE star Toni 
Collette sans clothes, full-frontal, *and* wearing a shaved head!  
(Not that I minded, mind you...)  

Striking visuals-- notably some amazing screen compositions-- help 
off-set the occasionally incomprehensible (or just plain incredu-
lous) plot point.  (See also: huh?)  And the leads, John Standing 
and Matthew Delamare-- as Senior and Junior, respectively-- are a 
dynamite, dry-humored pair.  Standing is particularly priceless 
when delivering such deadpan dissertations as The Penis As An En-
gineering Marvel.  (A moment even *more* memorable as it occurs 
during a screening of Fellini's 8 1/2, a film *this* film is also 
paying homage too.  That's French.)  Standing is also superb at 
the other end of the spectrum, depicting grief and the bitter de-
spondence of a newly widowed widow.  He'll give you the shivers...  
Eh, even if EIGHT POINT FIVE WOMEN doesn't make enough sense-- 
much less leave you with a workable woody-- at least you'll have 
one more idea for Father's Day.  My Dad'll flip...  With Vivian 
Wu, Shizuka Inoh, Kirina Mano, Polly Walker, and Amanda Plummer.  
("R"/121 min.)

Grade: C

Copyright 2000 by Michael J. Legeros
Movie Hell is a trademark of Michael J. Legeros

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