La Femme Nikita – French Fried week

There are quite a number of French films available on instant Netflix. We will be featuring some of them this week. La Femme Nikita is currently available on instant Netflix.

WATCH: La Femme Nikita (1990) – Rated R.

“Internationally acclaimed director Luc Besson delivers the action-packed story of Nikita (Anne Parillaud), a ruthless street junkie whose killer instincts could make her the perfect weapon, in this French film that was remade as Point of No Return in the U.S. Recruited against her will into a secret government organization, Nikita is broken and transformed into a sexy, sophisticated “lethal weapon.””

“And suppose I refuse?” – “Aisle seven. number 30.”

First I have to say that it is quite bizarre that a film called “Nikita” in France would be called “La Femme Nikita” in English. Instead of using the same title, you add “The Woman” in front of it? Of course La Femme sounds so much cooler than The Woman.

Second “Crayone” does not translate as “May I write it?” Although I do like that “chewing gum” is apparently colloquial enough to be used in the French as well. Also “See you later” (in English) is translated as “See You later”.

Both La Femme Nikita and the American remake Point of No Return are currently available on instant Netflix.

Nikita here is a completely unrepentant drugged-out murderous thug and that is before her transformation into an elite assassin. Nikita is played by the wonderful Anne Parillaud. In Point of No Return, she is renamed Maggie and played by Bridget Fonda.

Tcheky Karyo plays Bob, the handler. He does a convincing job of playing a consummate professional who is also in love with Nikita. He conveys a sense of heartbreak that he must always maintain a professional relationship with her. The scene where he gets a kiss is very good. His role is capably played by Gabriel Byrne in Point of No Return.

Nikita is also trained by Amande (played by famous French actress Jeanne Moreau). In Point of No Return, Anne Bancroft plays Amanda adding a touch of class to that version. As you can see both versions have good actors.

Luc Besson does a very good job of directing La Femme Nikita . He goes more for substance than style. There are several scenes that pack a real punch but most are in the last act so I will not spoil them.

There is more emotional depth and complexity in the French version (not surprisingly). The American version also tones down the beginning to make Nikita/Maggie more appealing – it actually just makes her less believable. I did think the setpieces were actually better in the American version.

I recommend watching La Femme Nikita. It is the better of the two films. If you cannot stand reading subtitles or just have a yen for Bridget Fonda/Gabriel Byrne/Anne Bancroft then watch Point of No Return.

Canada later made a series of La Femme Nikita with Peta Wilson in the starring role. I have not seen it but it is available on DVD through Netflix.

People Watch: Jean Reno has a brief but very memorable role as Victor Nettoyeur (the Cleaner). This role is played by Harvey Keitel in Point of No Return.

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