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CANNES ’99 REVIEW: Greenaway’s “8 1/2 Women” Explores Male Sexual Fantasy

CANNES '99 REVIEW: Greenaway's "8 1/2 Women" Explores Male Sexual Fantasy

CANNES ’99 REVIEW: The New David Lynch — Sentimental, Sweet, Gentle, and Touching

by David Bourgeois

Even though the Festival runs through today (Sunday), by Friday exhausted journalists had lost any patience they may have once had. So if you’re a filmmaker and your film screens toward the end of the Festival, it better be just shy of “Citizen Kane” to illicit a rapturous response.

Unfortunately for Cannes veteran Peter Greenaway, his film “8 1/2 Women” screened for the press on Friday, and as the credits rolled there was a steady stream of boos and cat-calls. Likely this had more to do with the general Festival burnout than with the film itself, by far his strongest since “The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover” — a film that played here in 1989.

The story tells the tale of Philip Emmenthal (John Standing), a wealthy Geneva businessman who inherits eight-and-a half pachinko parlors in Kyoto, Japan. Just as his son Storey (Matthew Delamere) agrees to run them, the family matriarch dies, sending father and son into a world of sexual fantasy.

Storey attempts to cheer up his father after his mother’s death by taking him to see Fellini’s “8 1/2” at a local Geneva theater. Inspired by Fellini’s film, the duo decide to turn their colossal Geneva mansion into a brothel to fulfill all of their sexual fantasies; they choose 8 1/2 women to be characters in their sexual exploits. Found among the colorful female palette are a Japanese kabuki enthusiast (Vivian Wu), who is obsessed with male

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