7. Inception (2010) – Mal Cobb
Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is one of the leading extractors in the world. He hooks into the dreams of his victims, looking for important business secrets, which he then profitably sells to wealthy bosses. His risky methods have put him on the black list of various major corporations, so he can no longer feel safe. His homecoming in the United States remains denied due to the suspicion of murdering his wife Mal (Marion Cotillard), although his small children are waiting for him.
The industrialist Saito (Ken Watanabe) hires Cobb for one last job, one that can simplify his long-awaited way home. Cobb and his team of professionals should plant a thought in the subconscious of a corporation heir in order to manipulate his business secret. Cobb and his team prepare the access meticulously, but a variable remains unpredictable: the psychic echo of Cobb’s dead wife puts him in terrible danger.
Mal Cobb is no femme fatale of flesh and blood, but she only exists in the subconscious of a broken man, who is troubled by his guilty conscience. She is equally as hot-tempered and manipulative as she is loving and sensitive. Mal lives as a projection in Cobb’s remaining memories and is caught in his unprocessed reality.
In life she shared the same passion as her husband. They often dipped into their dream world and reality has increasingly become strange. She kills herself in the belief that she will wake up in her “true” reality after her death.
6. Femme Fatale (2002) – Laure Ash / Lily Watts
The Cannes Film Festival is a presence of glamour and wealth. It is exactly the place where the handsome Laura (Rebecca Romijn-Stamos) steals a million dollar piece of jewelry from a naive female movie star by using refined methods. But the perfect coup goes wrong at the last minute because her accomplice gets arrested.
However, Laura manages to escape with all the loot and then immerses herself in America. Seven years later, Laura comes to Paris as the wife of the US Ambassador and now lives a new life under the name Lily. As a paparazzo photo taken by Nicolas (Antonio Banderas) appears on the cover of a magazine, the new identity of the diamond thief is at risk.
The movie title prophesies the actual plot, which becomes clear for the viewer from the first minute of the film. Laura is sitting in her hotel room and is watching excerpts of Billy Wilder’s Double Indemnity. She is completely lost in thought and focused on the film. During her raid, she uses the weapon of sexuality and seduction.
Laura is completely unscrupulous since she enriches herself at the expense of her prey and flees abroad. It is a little surprising that Laura ultimately does not remain completely reckless because she undergoes a moral change and succeeds to convince her doppelganger, who is about to commit a suicide, to live further.
5. Chinatown (1974) – Evelyn Mulwray
Sometime in the late ‘30s the former policeman Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) runs a successful detective agency in Los Angeles. He receives a nondescript order to verify the fidelity of a husband and involves himself more and more in a knotty murder case. After Gittes discovers that the allegedly “worried” wife has been posing as the wrong person, the real wife,
Evelyn (Faye Dunaway), shows up and threatens a lawsuit. Gittes does not trust it and continues his investigation. He is in pursuit of strange machinations, in which powerful people from the region seem to be involved. While Gittes feels the dangerousness of his investigation the hard way, a romance develops between him and Evelyn Cross Mulwray.
Evelyn is, from beginning to end, an obscure and ominous woman, who is always mysterious and unforeseeable. As she slowly builds more confidence in Gittes, she reveals only a few details from her past. Among other things, Gittes learns that she has been undermined in her authority by her father because she got married to his business partner.
Another time she confesses that she has always had difficulties being involved with only one man. She also lies to him regarding the young blond girl in her care. Once she claims it was her sister, and then that it was her daughter. The tragedy is that there is truth in both statements. From a classic femme fatale, the role evolves into a “Bad Good Girl.” She is a tragic figure because she is rather abused by her closest family and used as a tool rather than a malicious manipulator.
4. L.A. Confidential (1997) – Lynn Bracken
A cold Christmas day in 1953 in Los Angeles: while Jack Vincennes (Kevin Spacey) works for the drugs squad, he feels more at home in the glamorous world of Hollywood. He provides sensitive information to the publisher of the gossip sheet Hush Hush. Sid Hudgens (Danny DeVito) supplies him with confidential information and may in turn afford a luxurious life that would be unimaginable for the salary of an ordinary policeman.
Officer Bud White (Russell Crowe) is a rough, choleric type of policeman, who especially hates violent husbands. Lt. Edmund Exley (Guy Pearce), by contrast, always works hypercorrectly and in view of his career prospects. He takes his job so seriously that he also delivers his colleagues on a wrong offense. All three police officers could not be more different. It is only when a mass murder occurs in a fast food restaurant and a police officer gets killed that they are forced to work together.
Among the dead is also a woman White has recently seen with a broken nose in the car of the millionaire Pierce Patchett (David Strathairn). Patchett is known to be powerful in the pornography business and runs an exclusive call-girl agency. He lets the women undergo a beauty surgery so that they may look like big Hollywood movie stars. One of these call girls is Lynn Bracken (Kim Basinger). During his investigations on the murdered call girl, White gets to know the platinum blond Bracken and falls in love with her.
Lynn Bracken is silent as the grave. The viewer is never sure whether her silence is a sign that she is scared to stand soon on the death list or whether she holds secrets of the Fleur-de-Lis agency. Undeniably, it is a fact that she acts as a tool for blackmailing important people because she deliberately lets frivolous photos of her and her customers be taken.
3. The Last Seduction (1994) – Bridget Gregory
Bridget Gregory (Linda Fiorentino) is a seductive, intelligent beauty who is married to Clay (Bill Pullman), a wealthy doctor. He tolerates her whims, but gradually loses patience with her because she involves him in criminal actions. After she was able to persuade him to sell medical cocaine to dubious drug dealers, shortly thereafter she flees with the stolen money and hides herself in a small American town.
Clay’s desperation grows immeasurably because he needs the million dollars to pay a debt to a loan shark. He hires a detective to look for his missing wife. Bridget realizes along the way that only the murder of her husband is the solution for her. She gets to know the gullible village hero Mike Swale (Peter Berg), and twists his mind, turning him into a puppet for her deadly games.
Bridget is a modern variation of a business-oriented femme fatale, who is only focused on her own selfish interests. Most of the time one has the impression that she is bored by men because she only uses them as a means to reach her goal. Bridget is a gifted marriage swindler, who pretends to love her “victims” in order to get them involved in criminal interactions. She has a special ability, namely to write backwards, which indicates that she has a skilled hand and forger qualities.
When the planned murder of her husband is not committed satisfactorily, she unconscionably takes the initiative and kills him with a self-defense spray. She does this so confidently and calmly as if she would kill an insect. Since Mike has seen through her game, she focuses her manipulation on his major weakness, the female seduction, and calls the police during the sexual act in order to frame him for a murder and rape.
2. Dangerous Liaisons (1988) – Marquise de Merteuil
Madame de Volanges (Swoosie Kurtz) wants her daughter Cécile (Uma Thurman) to marry the Conte de Gercourt. The jealous Marquise de Merteuil (Glenn Close) plots revenge because until recently the Conte had been her devoted lover. The Marquise wins the trust of Cécile with ease and gets her to write salacious love letters to her music teacher, the Chevalier Danceny (Keanu Reeves).
Her former lover Viscount de Valmont (John Malkovich), who considers himself irresistible and indulges the reputation of an unpredictable libertine, is to deflower Cécile and pulls out all the stops to seduce Madame de Tourvel (Michelle Pfeiffer). The Viscount becomes entangled in the web of the Marquise and must ultimately pay with his life.
The Marquise de Merteuil is a cultured, refined, iron woman who has immense willpower. Although she teams up with the Viscount at the beginning, she makes philosophical experiments with his male ego. The Marquise is a woman who does not conform to her time as she secretly breaks every womanly convention and would never throw herself involuntarily into the arms of a man. She deals with her sexuality very openly and stresses that her favorite word is “revenge.”
When the Marquise notices that Valmont is probably in love for the first time in his life, her goal is to put his reputation into question and make him break the heart of the only woman who has ever meant something to him. In addition, she let Danceny know that Valmont has seduced Cécile.
But she goes too far with her game and ends up losing the Viscount in a sword duel. Moribund warns Danceny of the Marquise and asks him to bring in circulation letters that reveal the true character of the Marquise. The Marquise is completely devastated because of Valmont’s death.
1. Basic Instinct (1992) – Catherine Tramell
The famous rock star Johnny Boz (Bill Cable) is brutally murdered in his bed. During a love act, he has been tied to the bed with a white silk scarf and stabbed with an ice pick. Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone), the mistress of the murder victim, is instantly the main suspect for the investigators, detective Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) and Gus Moran (George Dzundza). Catherine claims not to have been with the victim on the night of the murder.
However, the publishing of her latest book, in which a rock star gets killed with an ice pick, also does not release her from guilt. After passing the police interrogation and the polygraph successfully, Catherine Tramell starts writing her new book. Her latest book deals with a police officer, a character similar to detective Curran, who falls in love with the wrong woman and gets murdered.
Catherine is the attractive femme fatale in person. She is especially dangerous because on the one hand, she is well-educated (she’s a psychologist and writer), and on the other hand, she is also vicious and driven by her sexual lust. She never distorts her face or loses her temper.
Even when she is sitting in a room full of male police officers, she uses skillful distraction. She flips her legs in order to show that she does not wear any underwear, and thus a legendary Hollywood scene was created. For Catherine, men are nothing more than toys and a nice pastime, as she actually has a passionate, open lesbian relationship.
Since she is driven by her senses, she also needs a direct inspiration, which she draws from her own experiences. She uses her lovers and the act of killing them as a template for her novels.
Author Bio: Natalie Wach (born 1987) is an independent film producer, script writer and director from Cologne, Germany. In 2011 she founded a video and film production called “United Rebels Production”, which stands for unconventional designs using newest technology.