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Femme Fatales Who Will Surely Ensnare Your Mind

BY SIDDHARTHA MUKHERJEE

The infamous femme fatale Helen of Troy is used to exemplify the strength of woman’s capability. Cinematic femme fatales represent a strong (sexy), willful and active woman, and as such gets her comeuppance in the end, as a punishment for daring to stray so far outside the acceptable boundaries of the conventional subservient woman. Despite their apparent reliance on seduction as a form of manipulation, they derive a certain amount of control from their sexuality and use intellect to get what they want. In the majority of noir films, however, the femme fatale remains committed to her independence, seldom allowing herself to be converted by the hero or captured by the police. We’re counting down our picks for the top most memorable femme fatales in modern flicks. Check out:

Bridget Gregory
The Last Seduction (1994)

The movie centers on the double-crossing machinations of diabolical Bridget Gregory (Linda Fiorentino), a tall, slender, throaty voiced brunette who cheats her husband out of some drug money and runs for it. While Fiorentino’s Bridget is an unlikeable character, we become fascinated by her. She is the ultimate manipulator; the sardonic portrayal of Bridget is fantastic, you can see the gears of manipulation turning behind every calculating look she casts around. And instead of making her evil, this just makes her intelligent and ruthless, something a lot of women would like to be.

Suzie Toller and Kelly Van Ryan
Wild Things (1997)

On the surface, the film’s about high-nosed teen socialite Kelly Van Ryan (Denise Richards) discovering her sexuality and finding out she can’t get whatever she wants. Sam Lombardo (Matt Dillon), who works as a high-school guidance counselor, is about to take a gut-wrenching detour into tabloid hell when Kelly accuses him of sexual assault and a student Suzie (Neve Campbell), soon adds her own tale of rape to the sordid outcry. You could opine that Neve Campbell’s character is the truest femme fatal in the film (seeing as she’s the one who gets away with the money). However, it’s Denise Richards we think of when remembering Wild Things. The sleazy, seamy, flashy, steamy, vulgar ladies revel in every minute of their own seductiveness and deliver some pretty solid, if prurient, entertainment before strangling in a one-twist-too-many ending tale.

Kathryn Merteuil
Cruel Intentions (1999)

The movie turns on a blasphemously cruel wager; now brother and sister (by marriage of absentee parents), Sebastian and Kathryn (Sarah Michelle Gellar) make an amusing bet to pass the hours as the summer before senior year drones onward in empty Manhattan and on the great estates of Long Island. Kathryn is a twisted scoundrel of a woman with a sublime narcissistic egotism; she wallows in the process of temptation, but isn’t so much enamored when the point of her being irresistible comes to a close. She is devilishly pleasurable to watch; her selfishness is disconcertingly cerebral.

Alex Forrest
Fatal Attraction (1987)

Glenn Close’s character Alex is quite deliberately made to be an erotomaniac; a strong female who has it all together but is actually a ticking time bomb of hormones, hate, and homicide (no trick is missed; Alex has other suitors but ignores them to pursue Daniel, a successful, happily married Manhattan lawyer). The femme fatale displays the behaviors of impulsivity, emotional liability, frantic efforts to avoid abandonment, frequent severe anger, self-harming, and changing from idealization to devaluation built with relentless force which presents a truly compelling villain in Alex. As nasty as she is, she also clearly articulates the moral code espoused in the movie.

Catherine Tramell
Basic Instinct (1992)

The idea that Sharon Stone could kick each of our posteriors, is a relatively easy one to buy, and this film capitalises on the fact that we don’t quite question it. What is so fascinating about Tramell then? She’s as cold as ice, a successful crime novelist who graduated magna cum laude with both a degree in literature and psychology from Berkeley who likes to recreate the murders in her books (and not get caught)? Her most impressive attribute is not her propensity for murder, which is common among femme fatales, but her cold assertion of a diverse palate. She is an interesting and captivating figure because of her role as a strong woman. A writer turned murder suspect Catherine Tramell is undoubtedly sexy. She is a sexual predator who can effortlessly pass a lie detector test without telling a single truth as well as seduce a detective in order to get away with her crimes. She arouses fear of castration but also a simultaneous masochistic desire for death, pleasure, and oblivion. The interrogation scene, forever embroiled in the minds of the audience, in which Stone’s character uncrosses and crosses her legs with the sly smile puffing smoke in front of a panel of police officers while wearing no underwear is actually a metaphoric image of a prison…a prison which traps the rationality of men caught in the throes of orgasm. Sharon Stone will forever be remembered for this role (for all of the sexual wiles and the smile, to enchant and beleaguer the viewer); her genius is a curse, she claims with extreme world-weariness, and the effect is delightful.

That’s all folks!

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1 Response

  1. August 22, 2016

    […] and paranoia. The plot includes scenes of crime, corruption, murder and predominantly a mysterious femme fatale. Such films, can be categorized as a neo-noir film, as it includes these conventions of the film […]

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