Friday, 27 January 2017

Female Agents (3 Stars)

This is a film that's loosely based on the life of Lise de Baissac, called Louise Desfontaines in the film. I never understand why films based on real people change the names. Maybe it's because relatives of dead heroes might argue too much if certain events are over-dramatised. I don't know.

The film takes place in early 1944. A British geologist visited the coast of Normandy to test its suitability for an allied landing. He was wounded in a firefight, but he managed to escape after putting on the uniform of a dead German soldier. He was thought to be German and taken to a military hospital in Paris. The British army wants to retrieve him from the hospital before his cover is blown. After all, he can't speak German, and he can't remain silent indefinitely.

The solution is to send a group of French women into the hospital. Two are disguised as nurses. Two are dancers in a cabaret to entertain the wounded German troops. A fifth woman is a driver, waiting for the others to push the geologist out of the hospital in a wheelchair. What they don't realise is that his identity was already discovered before they arrived, so the supposedly peaceful mission turns into a shootout between the female agents and the German soldiers stationed at the hotel, followed by a chase across the city.

It wasn't rare for women to fight against the Nazis. There were a lot of French women who fought in the French Resistance. What made these agents different is that they were working under the command of the British army.

I like the subject matter of the film. It's fascinating to see women fighting against men. What spoils it for me is the semi-biographical nature. The women are so unglamorous. Most of them died in the course of this mission -- sorry for the spoiler -- which made it disappointing to me. That's one of the disadvantages of true stories. In real life the good guys (or girls) don't always win.

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