DVD Review: "Femme Fatales: Season One" Review - A Blend of Erotica & Film Noir

By Jamie Ruby

Femme Fatales: Season OneFemme Fatales: The Complete First Season

The Cinemax adult series Femme Fatales blends film noir, erotica, and variety of other genres. Each episode gives you something different.

Season one is full of mostly standalone episodes, with the exception of two two-parters, one being the season finale. The overall theme of the show seems to be revenge by women who have been done wrong. Each episode opens with Tanit Phoenix as Lilith (sometimes after the opening teaser), sort of reminiscent of Tales from the Crypt, talking about what's to come during the episode.

Femme Fatales: Season OneSome of the stories of the series I enjoyed, such as "Speed Date," "Girls Gone Dead," and "Visions." Most of the stories have creepy undertones and an interesting twist or surprise at the end. They cover a variety of genres within contemporary film noir, including bouts of comedy and horror in addition to the action and drama. Most of the scripts are well written and engaging. A few of the actors appear in more than one episode, which helps with continuity throughout the series since they are generally stand alone episodes, especially in the two-part finale, "Visions," which a lot of the previous characters popped up in, which kept it interesting.

The other thing prevalent through the season is nudity and sex. The series walks (and sometimes crosses) the line of soft core porn, though at least the majority of the acting isn't as bad, and it does at times take a back seat to the actual story; each episode does have an interesting plot. However, often the sex scenes aren't integral to the story, as some were obviously added to fit Cinemax's adult format. The show is also directed and filmed well and doesn't look like the low budget series you might expect. Most of the actors, however, are mediocre at best, though some of the overacting is partially due to the hyper reality in the way the series is stylized. Regardless, there were a few standouts, specifically Robert LaSardo in "Bad Medicine," Reginald C. Hayes and Daphne Duplaix in the comedic "Speed Date" and Charlie O'Connell and Dean Haglund in "Girls Gone Dead," as well as some of the other guest actors. The bad thing is, most of the time the guests tended to be better and more believable than the main cast, which may be the show's saving grace.

When I requested the DVD to review, I didn't realize exactly what the series was. Where as the show may be about empowered women, I still think that the show is probably more something that a male audience would enjoy for the most part, which may be why other reviewers have had a higher opinion of the series than I did. I did find myself intrigued by some of the stories, but probably never would have watched it if I wasn't reviewing it. Even so, it was still worth a look if you are looking for something unique, and I think the guys will really like it.

The DVD set does have an abundance of special features.


 *   Creating Femme Fatales – The creator, as well as other cast and crew members talk about the creation of the show, from inception to pitching the script, as well as things such as the stylization of the series. This feature thoroughly explains the series.

 *   Shooting Femme Fatales: The Making of Season One – This is a behind the scenes feature that shows clips of filming the series. The cast and crew talk about things such as the fact that they shot episodes in three days, about experimenting with lighting and such, and a lot about directing the scenes. This feature goes through the different episodes and is pretty long (about 29 minutes in total).

 *   Anatomy of a Sex Scene – This feature is what it implies. The cast and crew talk about the logistics of filming the sex scenes, and many of the actors talk about how they felt doing nude scenes for the first time.

 *   San Diego ComicCon 2011 Panel – This is just what it sounds like.

Blooper Reel – Self explanatory

Photo Gallery - Ditto

Directors Cut: The White Flower – This cut of the episode, as the commentary explains, is a cut that Michael Hurst and his brother Andy made – they turned the episode into black and white with a few spots of red and edited it down from the original version that aired. They made it into a short film, where they cut out a lot of what they felt was unnecessary to tell the story, such as most of the sex scenes that were added because it aired on Cinemax. They also took out some of the unneeded flashbacks and reframed some shots. It runs around 15 minutes, and is more like what a traditional noir movie would be like. It was really just something they did for fun that they added to the DVD set. I did enjoy this cut, and I like the inserted coloring they used.

Deleted & Alternate Scenes
– There are eleven scenes, each has an explanation of why they were cut. There wasn't really any that stood out to me.

Femme Fatales Previews:

  *   Bumpers – Short previews for each of the episodes that probably aired on Cinemax.

  *   Home Video Promo – This shows clips from different episodes interspersed with quotes from media outlets.

  *   Season One Sizzle Preview Reel – Promos for the season made into one trailer.

Help Me, Rhonda – Isolated Music Score – This is a menu that plays the music through the entire episode; it's over 30 minutes long.

Audio Commentary – there is commentary for all of the episodes with the stars and creators, and they talk about a variety of things, such as production, etc.


The packaging was a simple clam case with three discs. The first two are episodes 1-14. The episodes are listed on the discs in both a different order than they were shot and different from how they aired. The third disc is just the bonus features, minus the episode commentary, aside from the commentary for the director's cut of "White Flower," which is on the third disc as well.

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