‘Female Agents’ is a proud throwback to the classic wartime spy thriller, tossing in all the expected plot twists, double crosses and foot chases. But it never manages to capture the spirit of its forebears thanks to a plodding script, uninspired direction and some unintelligible narrative convolutions. The (notably male) filmmakers’ attitude towards their heroines is oddly skewed: Marceau’s ball-busting Louise cuts a fine figure, but her sister agents are a useless bunch.
Variously weak, flighty and treacherous, they tend to spend much of their time stripping off and being tortured– there are some troubling scenes, culminating in a tasteless naked suicide loaded with redundant religious symbolism. There’s a fair amount to appreciate here, much of it cosmetic: the period recreation is superb, and the striking central cast carry off their dashing ’40s couture with aplomb. But one can’t help feeling that the heroines who inspired the story deserve a more spirited tribute than this coarse, derivative girl’s-own adventure.