‘7 Women and a Murder’ movie review: modest 8 Femmes remake not without charm

NOW STREAMING ON:

A group of women gathered at an isolated retreat in rural Italian Italy for the holidays discover that the family patriarch has been murdered – and one of them must be the killer – in 7 Women and a Murder (7 donne e un mistero), which opened in Italian cinemas last Christmas and is now streaming worldwide on Netflix.

This lightweight spin on François Ozon’s 8 Femmes, minus one of the women, doesn’t live up to the original but does manage fleeting charm thanks to some flavorful performances and a breezy presentation.

Set during Christmastime in an Italian country home, 7 Women and a Murder stars Diana Del Bufalo as Susanna, the daughter of upper-class Italian parents who visits her family’s resort by the lake for the holidays.

Already there are grandma Rachele (Ornella Vanoni), mom Margherita (Margherita Buy), and younger sister Catarina (Perfect StrangersBenedetta Porcaroli), alongside aunt Agostina (Sabrina Impacciatore). And the unexpectedly alluring new maid Maria (Luisa Ranieri), whose appearance Susanna immediately notes.

But when the women of the house go to check on the unseen family patriarch, they discover he’s been killed… and one of them is most likely the murderer. When mistress Veronica (Micaela Ramazzotti) shows up to the house to check in on her lover, she adds another suspect into the mix, and gets some bitter

Without assistance from authorities until a snowstorm clears, the women attempt to solve the mystery behind the murder themselves. Instead, they uncover a host of motives and few alibis as they reveal long-dormant family secrets and a few new surprises.

Directed by Alessandro Genovesi, who also wrote the screenplay with Lisa Nur Sultan, 7 Women and a Murder hews pretty closely to the story of Ozon’s 2002 film, itself based on Robert Thomas’ 1958 play. Given that the climactic revelation is one of the story’s most dynamic elements, those already familiar with the narrative may not get a lot from this latest version.

But for anyone tuning in blind via Netflix, 7 Women and a Murder is lightweight fun bolstered by the holiday atmosphere and some appealing performances. Impacciatore, who recently starred as the hotelier in the second season of HBO’s The White Lotus, is especially charming as the forlorn aunt.

7 Women and a Murder doesn’t deliver anything like Ozon’s earlier movie – an over-the-top musical in the style of 1950s Hollywood – but instead unravels its story in straightforward and largely inoffensive fashion, and ends up as a perfectly undemanding piece of streaming entertainment.

7 Women and a Murder

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Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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