Femme Fatale

Eva Green vs. Frank Miller: A Feminist Revolt in a Man’s World

Eva Green in 300 and Sin City

Even when Eva Green chooses to take part in obviously bad movies, she somehow manages to carry them to a higher level of quality all on her own. Such is the case with two of her films: ‘300: Rise of an Empire’ and ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.’ …Both of which starred Green in major femme fatale roles, and both of which feel, in part, like pro-feminist reactions to the original films they follow.

‘Videodrome’ and the Pornographic Femme Fatale


David Cronenberg’s sci-fi-horror-noir ‘Videodrome’ updated the femme fatale as a response to media-saturated late twentieth-century culture. …The femme fatale is reborn and unleashed to warn of contemporary dangers, including how women’s media representation as sex objects is connected to capitalist propaganda, often with the intent of making a violent agenda seem pleasurable.

Dead Woman Walking: ‘Phoenix’ and the Resurrected Femme Fatale


The femme fatale, then, embodies noir’s obsession with death – not only its inevitability but also its allure. Unlike the male hero, who strives to defy fate at every turn, the femme fatale is acutely aware of her vulnerability. As scholar Elisabeth Bronfen posits, she “accepts her death as the logical consequence of her insistence on a radical pursuit of personal freedom,” embracing ruin rather than wallowing in denial. It isn’t passivity so much as cynicism; as a woman in a patriarchal society, she’s familiar with the limits of autonomy and has no illusions of grandeur or righteousness.

Unlikable Women: The Roundup

The weather presenter

Check out all of the posts for our Unlikable Women Theme Week here.

Bad Girls Go to Heaven: Hollywood’s Feminist Rebels

Gene Tierney in Leave Her to Heaven (1945)

Hollywood has produced some of the most memorable bad girls and wicked women on-screen—from silent era’s infamous vamps to film noir’s femme fatales—but bad women do more than just entertain, particularly if we’re talking about the sweepingly emotional and excessively dramatic world of woman’s melodrama.

‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Her’: Dude, the Internet’s Just Not That Into You

Is she for real?

‘Ex Machina’ and ‘Her,’ by contrast, are uncomfortably searching explorations of the hetero-male fear of, and emotional need for, women, that feel like self-scrutiny. By replacing women with female images that are literally constructions of male fantasy, the films offer no distractions from probing the heroes’ own psychology. These guys are not chauvinazis. They are the real deal.

The Modern Femme Fatale in Nicolas Wending Refn’s Neo-Noir ‘Drive’

The Modern Femme Fatale Irene (Carey Mulligan)

Irene comes across as sexually inhibited in her relationship with Driver because she knows that her husband will soon return home from prison. However, from the moment that she meets Driver, she relies on him for help.

Male Mask, Female Voice: The Noir of Ida Lupino

Ida Lupino

Lupino then struck out from the studio system to direct three noirs of her own: ‘Outrage,’ ‘The Hitch-Hiker,’ and ‘The Bigamist,’ the only classic noirs made by a female auteur. Each uses a different strategy to challenge the empathy gap between spectators and female characters, and to subvert the femme-fatale trope.

The Female Archetypes Through the Lens of Roberto Rossellini

The devout Pina (Anna Magnani)

The character development of Pina and Marina used by Rossellini shows the influence of the war on Italian life and femininity. The suffering women are the epitome of the country at war.

Femme Fatale in a Training Bra: ‘Orphan’s Esther and The Questionable Motives of Lolita Haze

The unnerving poster for Orphan

Movies where young girls are victimized are generally our idea of real world horrors, movies that are too sickening to sit through, but as much as they unsettle us, we expect them. We see these stories in the news every day. What is made truly terrifying and shocking in our culture is the advanced young girl already aware of her powers, and what she can get with them–a girl who knows how to move, how to dress, and how to manipulate.

The Coolest of Them All: An Ode to Marlene Dietrich

A woman way ahead of her time

What modern cinema audiences should be interested in is his or her place in Hollywood history, and socio-cultural significance. Dietrich is a radical, and progressive cultural figure in terms of her sexual and gender identity. On and off screen. Her off-screen identity was also subversively androgynous and was often signified by her masculine attire.

Bewitched by Bridget: Female Erotic Subjectivity in ‘The Last Seduction’


Female viewers may derive psychological pleasure from watching Bridget’s erotic, self-interested shenanigans. It’s exhilarating to see a female cinematic character take sexual control and outwit her male partners. It makes a refreshing change from watching women suffer the pain of romantic love. We know that Bridget will never be a victim. She will never tolerate domestic drudgery or the compromises marriage brings. In fact, it’s pretty much a given that she will always overcome her opponents. Life is a pitiless yet entertaining Darwinian game in ‘The Last Seduction,’ and Bridget plays it brilliantly.