Winning WWII was to a large extent the merit of women – many kept the economy and the households working, many other served in different tasks in the armed forces, and yes – a few fought in secret missions. Cinema did not avoid the theme either and some may remember ‘Babette s’en va-t-en guerre‘ the 1959 film by with Brigitte Bardot . That film was fun. Unfortunately I hardly can say the same about ‘Les Femmes de l’ombre‘ written and directed almost half a century later by . The peak of fun but yet respectful movies about WWII is with no doubt Inglorious Basterds made one year after ‘Les femmes…’ . And yet, Christian-Jaque’s film of 1959 is much closer to the spirit of Tarantino.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0824330

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0824330

 

Les Femmes de l’ombre not only follows on the path of so many other films about ‘la Resistance’ and parachuted agents in occupied France but also borrows some of the worst cliches. The story of a team of amateur women assembled in a matter of three days to save the invasion in Normandy can possibly overcome the lack of credibility of the premises only if it is treated in a spirited easy comic manner, or if it adds some high thrill or emotional drama. ‘Les femmes de l’ombre’ does none of these, but rather takes a piously traditional approach to tell a story that is filled by too many expected moments. The action and drama that happens on screen never really got me interested.

 

(video source mckflz)

 

There are a few good intentions that cross the screen but they are not enough. Sophie Marceau is a fine actress and her character took shape despite the melodramatic touches. The other actresses succeeded to build each her own distinct character. On the other hand Moritz Bleibtreu was a less credible SS bastard – he looked too young, and, yes, too likable for the role. Director Salome chose a cautious conservative approach  which buried the interesting aspects of the theme. Despite the initial promises my feeling at the end of the screening was that I have seen once again a story told several times.