(2002)3.5Michael HastingsAfter the subdued classicism of the dramatic thriller Under the Sand, director François Ozon lets loose with this star-studded camp extravaganza, and though the results are never less than immensely enjoyable, the director's hyper-ironic, postmodern take on Technicolor '50s women's pictures is in the end more than a little shallow. But depth isn't what Ozon is interested in here: 8 Women is all surface and pastiche, from the garish costumes recalling both Douglas Sirk's All That Heaven Allows and Luis Buñuel's Diary of a Chambermaid, to the curiously static musical numbers marrying François Hardy classics to Lawrence Welk-style choreography. The formula yields some delectable performances, among them a grand, icon-smashing tour de force from Catherine Deneuve; a tweedy, constipated turn from Isabelle Huppert, cast joyously against type; and Emmanuelle Béart's lip-smacking parody of the erotic-maid archetype so endemic to Gallic film history. Even the film's source material seems tailor-made to Ozon's needs: The acidic one-liners, double- and triple-crosses, and ambi-sexual character revelations all work in tandem with 8 Women's meticulously designed and over-lit sets, fake snow, and plastic deer. So while film geeks -- in particular those with an encyclopedic knowledge of French cinema -- may have a ball, those expecting a straight (in every sense of the word) comedic murder-mystery will be forgiven if they stagger out of 8 Women a little dazed and confused.