February 28, 2024

Wingwomen 2023 Movie Review

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Wingwomen 2023 Movie Review

There are almost enough moments of low-level fun to be had in Wingwomen, Mélanie Laurent’s easy, breezy attempt to make a French action comedy polished enough to compete with Hollywood counterparts. The sub-genre has become exhausting of late, the sight of a couple quipping while involved in a pop-soundtracked action setpiece starting to border on parody, especially in this year’s atrocious Chris Evans-Ana de Armas disaster Ghosted. But Laurent, to her credit as director, is less interested in how a shootout can work as an aphrodisiac, and more invested in how it would affect a female friendship.

And so the first time we see her and BFF, played by Adèle Exarchopoulos, fresh from Passages, they’re bantering about the latter’s lacklustre love life while trying to avoid getting shot at by some fighter drones. It’s certainly more novel than we’re used to, but only superficially, and with some messy editing and perfunctory quips, it’s an opener resting solely on the shoulders of its two leads. The same can be said for most of the film, Laurent and Exarchopoulos doing some strenuous grunt work to make Wingwomen feel as light-footed as it does. They play ride-or-dies who work together for the Godmother (a vampy, underused Isabelle Adjani), who gives them high-risk missions around Europe. But when Carole (Laurent) wants a new life, they find that, surprise of surprises, getting out is a lot harder than getting in.

We’re in very, very familiar territory here, but Laurent and her writers, using the graphic novel The Grand Odalisque as inspiration, hope that by framing the central female friendship as a romance, they might make Wingwomen feel like something new. It works in parts because the intensity of their friendship is something we don’t often see on screen from women going into their 30s and beyond (it’s what made 2019’s unfairly overlooked Animals feel so fresh) and the film is most effective when it’s just the two of them hanging out, planning what to cook for dinner and spitballing about what kind of restaurant they would open once they have retired from crime. These moments are charming more because of the two women rather than the dialogue itself, which often lacks enough specificity and wit to really sing. It feels like this is the story Laurent is more interested in telling – a talky hangout comedy – with the crime plot feeling a quarter-baked at best and action sequences struggling to lure us to even the middle of our seats.

Exarchopoulos does make a convincing case for more action movie work, though, a believable marksman and accomplished fighter who gets one standout fight scene when a threesome goes awry. The pair are also joined by Manon Bresch’s spunky driver, who adds a new, if under-explored, dimension to their friendship. But the charming trio only take Wingwomen so far, and as their plan unfolds, it’s hard to really keep up with the awkward tonal shifts, as shootouts crash into meet-cutes into monologues about grief into motorbike chases, the kind of sleek entertainment that should feel a whole lot sleeker, as we travel from one glossy location to the next. When the film lurches into grand, hanky-grabbing emotion in the finale, it feels bizarre and unearned, and is met by a cop-out last scene that’s maddeningly unexplained, the sort of lazy coda that demands us not to be too curious about important details. It’s a crime.

Wingwomen 2023 Movie Review