Femme fatales are usually supporting characters in any crime or espionage thriller. The last femme fatale who created a lot of noise for her suave action skills and sheer beauty in a film was Ana de Armas in No Time to Die. Ever since, there have been only a handful of films and television shows that have explored this archetype. Even in the Hindi cinema space, the last interesting film that deeply explored the femme fatale was Vishal Bhardwaj’s Saat Khoon Maaf. Wingwomen, whose French title is Voleuses, loosely translated to thieves, is the story of two friends who are on the verge of leaving the life of crime. This French Netflix original film, released on November 2, 2023, is based on the comic book of the same name by Florent Ruppert, Jérôme Mulot, and Christophe Deslandes and is directed by Mélanie Laurent.
Carole and Alex in Wingwomen are thieves who have been working together for many years for their boss, who is referred to as ‘Godmother’. Their recent heist led to a close brush with death, which made them rethink their decision to continue working as burglars. Carole learns that she is pregnant, which was also instrumental in her making a sound decision to move away from her current profession. Her best friend Alex is willing to walk out on the ‘Godmother’ with Carole because they have been inseparable for many years. The ‘Godmother’ is in no mood to let them go free. She forces Carole to take up one last job and is willing to pay any amount as remuneration for the heist. Carole and Alex agree to this job, and what happens when they get into the nitty-gritty of the heist forms the crux of the plot in Wingwomen.
The core of the film is female-centric storytelling. The leads are women, and it allows the audience to look at the narrative from a female perspective. There are no preachy or lengthy verbose dialogues on female empowerment. The women here are carrying out the same activities that a man would do in a film based on the same genre. Mélanie Laurent, who also stars in this film as Carole, has painted a rich portrait of every character in the movie something which is absent from many female-driven stories. Here, the women are each other’s soulmates, sisters, best friends, caretakers, and guardians. All of them wield weapons, steal diamonds, crash drones, and, at their core, are funny individuals. The women in this movie are evil as well, and they do not function any differently from their male counterparts.
The highlight of this two-hour-long film is the camaraderie and sisterhood between three women who have been hired to carry out a heist worth a million. Apart from the job they do, these women have flaws, make mistakes, and are seeking true love. All three show respect and are honest about their life choices. For the Hindi-speaking audience, this film will probably remind them of Manish Sharma’s Ladies vs. Ricky Behl. A film that was about a group of three women going after one man who financially and emotionally cheated them. Their resilience is amazing throughout the runtime. A similar kind of vibe is found in Wingwomen as well. Female friendships and the conversations women indulge in are explored in depth. For that alone, this film deserve to be viewed. The chemistry between all women is organic and does not feel forced. It is established right from the start that Carole and Alex have been friends for a long time, and their understanding of each other cannot be questioned. The screenplay by Christophe Deslandes and Cédric Anger is predictable after a point, but the strength lies in exploring the dynamics of the three women as they navigate through life and prepare for the heist.
There is a thin line between friendship and love that Carole and Alex share, and the director and the writers made sure not to add anything extra to titillate the audience.Wingwomen will surely entice women to make that trip with their best friends. The writers also explored the need for female friendships in every woman’s life. Alex and Carole are joined by Sam; her character merging with the duo is executed seamlessly, and the women do not project any sort of competition between the three of them. In many films in the past, women who were friends were always pitted against each other. Wingwomen does not do that. The women embrace each other’s good and bad qualities as the story progresses, and it is endearing to watch this bonding.
The start of the film is fast-paced and incredible, and it sets the tone for the rest of the runtime. The writers have done a good job of infusing dark humor into the conversations. The placement of humor in the entire screenplay needs to be appreciated. The writers do not overdo the humor, and it allows the viewers to be a fly on the wall of the conversations happening between several characters at a time. It is interesting to see a fine example of how female-driven stories ought to be mounted. Hopefully, this film could be the start of normalizing stories about women who take up all kinds of jobs to sustain themselves.
Since the humor is top-notch, it elevates the dialogue as well. Some of the best dialogue is given to Adèle Exarchopoulos, who portrays the character of Alex. The dialogue takes the narrative forward and helps retain the engagement factor. The direction by Mélanie Laurent is excellent. Even though the climax was predictable, the execution of a simple screenplay such as this made the film interesting. There are plenty of chase scenes that have been directed with the utmost finesse. The predictable narrative is one of the few problems related to the movie, and it could easily be ignored. However, there is no explanation for the climactic sequences leading up to the last scene of the film. The writers should have given the audience the right kind of closure.
The performance of all the ladies in Wingwomen is excellent. None of them are wearing any fancy clothes or being flaunted as outrageously beautiful women carrying out dangerous tasks flawlessly. All of them are regular humans who commit these crimes just for some financial independence. Mélanie Laurent is brilliant as the logical Carole, while Adèle Exarchopoulos is equally good and natural as a naïve woman who is seeking a loving partner outside of her work with Carole. Lucie Laffin, as the ‘Godmother,’ is one of the standout performers who is ruthless and desperate to retain the two most skilled people she knows in her line of work.
Wingwomen is a wordplay on Wingman, a buddy who helps his friend in any given situation. Here, the women do the same for each other, and it has been presented skillfully. This formulaic femme fatale story surrounding friendship is a good watch.