8½ Women

Director: Peter Greenaway
Year Released: 2000
Rating: 1.0

"Come on Peter!" I kept saying to myself, while watching this a tremendous disappointment from one of my favorite living filmmakers. It's less Greenawayesque than we're used to (there are only a handful - if that - of flamboyant flourishes such as number games, frames-within-frames, grotesque shots of mutilation, debauchery and De Sadeian hilarity) and also so shamefully straightforward. If people are stepping forward to explore the work of this filmmaker, and first turn to this movie, they will have no idea what he's capable of. The story: young man (Matthew Delamere) and father (John Standing) mourn mother's death in incestuous way (completely creepy), then decide, I guess, after watching Fellini's 8½ to take that same number of women and force them to live in their mansion. That's it. The women get fed up with the arrangement - one by one - and leave. Then the father dies. Then, the credits roll. While Greenaway has never been noted for his plot structure or narrative ability (he's more of a cinematic painter, more interested in individual brushstrokes and highlights and singular moments than grand plot lines), even for him this is sluggish. There is surely nudity galore - a trademark of his, and for both genders - but even that fails to keep one's eyes peeled amidst boring, dry, dumb material. Don't get me started on the acting, either: except for the father everyone else is terrible or stuck with limited roles (awful Delamere maintains the same cocky expression throughout; the Japanese women need a dialogue coach, immediately; Toni Collette does and says little except dress like a nun and strip ... by the way, nice tattoo; Amanda Plummer washes a pig, naked and rides a horse, naked).